Climate Activists Put America at Risk of Dependence on Russian Energy

The war in Ukraine has caused significant disruption to European energy markets that are highly dependent on Russian productions, and America’s power grid could soon experience similar issues because of policies being pushed by radical environmentalists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has found outsized power because one-third of Europe’s oil and 40 percent of its natural gas demand is supplied by Russia. As a result of western sanctions against Russia after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Putin has threatened to cut off supply to Europe and is demanding payment in Rubles rather than Euros.

Putin has threatened that if payments are not made in the manner he demands that he will consider it a “default on the part of buyers.” He has also menacingly said that would involve the “ensuing consequences,” meaning cancelation of supply contracts.

EU leaders called Putin’s bluff, and so far the energy supply is still flowing. The damage done to diplomatic options remains, however. Putin has slowed exports to the extent that he is able to keep European reserves below the “minimum volume” for the first time in several years.

Europe is scrambling to find ways to replace its energy supply and avoid dependence on Russia. Germany has even warned its citizens to be prepared for the possibility of energy rationing.

The U.S. has already declared a ban on imported Russian energy products. The ban has not been problematic so far, as only 3 percent of crude oil imports to America came from Russia. The interruption is being used by the Biden administration as an excuse for surging gas prices, however. The administration has nonetheless remained committed to its “carbon-free” policies that have crippled domestic energy production.

If America is actually headed toward a future without fossil fuels, the nation will have to significantly expand its nuclear energy capabilities. The major problem with that reality is the dependence on Russia for a reliable uranium supply, which would place the U.S. in the same position as Europe faces today.

Nuclear power currently supplies 20 percent of America’s electric grid and constitutes 55 percent of the carbon-free energy the country uses. Power the Future executive director Daniel Turner told The Federalist that projections of American non-carbon energy capacity outside of nuclear production are not realistic. He pointed out the amount of capacity is irrelevant if there is a low-wind winter like Europe has recently experienced.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is a long way from being able to ramp up its nuclear energy capacity without unacceptable vulnerabilities in the supply chain. America’s uranium production fell to its lowest level ever in 2019. The country imported 46 percent of the uranium needed even for our relatively small capacity from Russia and its allied nations in 2020.

Uranium Producers of America president Scott Melby cautions that the country has become “lackadaisical” about its uranium supply. The Biden White House remains determined to keep America beholden to hostile foreign suppliers rather than expanding our mining potential domestically, which remains the strongest in the world.