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Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., believes President Biden’s energy policies demonstrate that he is “being held hostage by the far-left wing of his party.”
His comments came after he was asked about the president’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration’s decision to lift sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was expected to employ more than 11,000 Americans in 2021.
“Biden is being held hostage by the far-left wing of his party…in spite of the devastating impacts it’s going to have on our nation and our nation’s economy and our nation’s energy supply and, long term, essentially doing nothing related to the climate,” the senator said in an interview with Fox News. “If you really want to get a handle on climate change, which is what he continues to talk about, you need to get China and India to produce fewer emissions.”
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While the United States emits the second-largest amount of carbon in the world behind China and ahead of Russia and India, Barrasso noted that between 2000 and 2016, the U.S. reduced more carbon emissions than the 12 next most emissions-reducing countries combined “due to” energy and technology innovation.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, speaks during a hearing, May 20, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
China agreed to cooperate on efforts to combat climate change with the U.S. during a virtual summit in April, but Chinese President Xi Jinping has made clear that China plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 with a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2060. Meanwhile, Biden plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions and achieve 100% clean energy by 2050.
“China’s promises are less real and further out,” Barrasso, who leads the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said, adding that “there is a cost” to the United States’ “competitiveness when we attack and raise the cost of American energy.”
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“The policies of the Biden administration are playing out right now at home,” he said. “Anybody going to fill up their tanks…in Wyoming are spending $20 extra. … We’re seeing inflation, and every family in America is digging into their wallets as a result of Biden policies, which I believe have been bad for our economy and certainly bad for the workers in our country.”
The U.S. became the world’s top crude oil producer in 2018 and maintained its position into 2020, but Barrasso is concerned that while the country has maintained energy dominance for the past several years, it could become increasingly reliant on foreign oil under the Biden administration’s efforts to move away from fossil fuels and coal, noting that the country imports more oil from Russia than it gets from Alaska.
He added that the clean-energy jobs Biden promised Americans when he took office are “disproportionate” to the number of traditional energy jobs being lost under the president’s policies.
Pipes for the Keystone XL pipeline stacked in a yard near Oyen, Alberta, Canada, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. ( Photographer: Jason Franson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“We know U.S. energy demands are going to continue to go up. World energy demands are going to continue to go up. And my concern is, Joe Biden’s [policies are making us less reliant on the U.S.], which means we’re going to have to buy more from other places around the world,” he said.
Barrasso also took issue with Biden’s meeting with Putin, saying he thinks the president “made a number of critical errors, and one was in the run-up to the summit when Biden [allowed construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline] to go forward.”
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A State Department report released in May suggested that Nord Stream 2 engaged in sanctionable activity. In June, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken waived those sanctions, saying in June that the construction on the pipeline was almost complete, and the decision would be in the best interest of the United States.
Barrasso noted that Bliken, however, during his confirmation hearing assured senators that he was “determined to do whatever” he could “to prevent that completion, the last hundred yards” of the pipeline.
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Bipartisan critics of the administration’s decision, including Barrasso, say the Nord Stream 2 project will ensure that Germany becomes dependent for its energy needs on Russia and believes the U.S. should have worked to completely halt construction of the pipeline. The senator suggested that lifting sanctions may have been a “precondition” for Biden to meet with Putin.
US President Joe Biden (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they meet for talks at the Villa La Grange. (Mikhail Metzel/ TASS/ Getty Images)
Another “critical error” Barrasso believes Biden made at the meeting was his decision to list 16 critical U.S. infrastructure sectors that Russian cyberattacks should not target after a Russian ransomware group called Darkside shut down the Colonial Pipeline – though Russia denies its involvement – causing gas shortages up and down the East Coast for several days in May.
“Well, what about everything else?” Barrasso said of other critical U.S. infrastructure sectors that may be vulnerable to cyber attacks, suggesting that Biden’s list gives Russian threat actors an idea of which areas to target.
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He added that the Colonial Pipeline attack created long gas lines and “some panic,” and “if that happens when you shut down one pipeline in the U.S., that means you should have more pipelines, not fewer.”
The other thing I didn’t like about what President Biden did was he…brought up a list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, including energy and water, that Russia shouldn’t hack. … Well, what about everything else?
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“There are ways to protect the environment without actually punishing the economy,” he continued.
Fox News’ Yael Halon and Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.