WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Subcommittee, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member of the Subcommittee, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Gardner (R-Col.) on Thursday introduced the European Energy Security and Diversification Act to provide new tools for the United States to combat malign Russian influence and create economic opportunities at home and abroad. Russia uses its dominance of the energy market, along with bribery, corruption, and propaganda, to undermine Western institutions and install pliant governments that are unable or unwilling to counter Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. The European Energy Security and Diversification Act will authorize $1 billion in financing to catalyze U.S. public and private sector investment for European energy projects that, paired with increased diplomatic and technical support, will help diversify Europe’s energy supply and decrease Russia’s hold on the region. U.S. Representatives Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) and Bill Keating (MA-9) are introducing the counterpart bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The Kremlin uses bribery, corruption and scare tactics to coerce countries in Eastern Europe into remaining dependent on Russian energy and oil. America has done a lot to help diversify Europe’s energy supply, but we can do a lot more. Our bill helps spur public and private sector investment to help our allies secure new sources of energy, and contributes to strategically important projects to help break Putin’s grip on Eastern Europe while creating good jobs here in the United States,” said Murphy.
“Russia has shown that it can – and will – coerce nations that are dependent upon its energy. Countering the destabilizing influence that Russia’s energy dominance has in the region is important for Europe and U.S. national security interests. This bill would authorize the USTDA, USIDFC, and other relevant agencies to support U.S. private sector investment in strategic energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe in order to promote increased energy security and supply diversification in the region,” said Johnson.
“The Kremlin’s efforts to manipulate and control Europe’s energy sector is one of the many ways in which Putin seeks to expand his corrupt influence worldwide and punish his neighbors for seeking a more democratic way of life and government. Time and again, Russian energy projects have proven to be bad for Europe and dangerous for global stability,” said Shaheen. “If passed, this bipartisan legislation will help limit the Kremlin’s toxic reach while simultaneously broadening access for like-minded, rule-abiding companies to access the European energy market. Congress must continue to use its power and authority to stand up to malign actors, like the Kremlin, and help protect our transatlantic allies.”
“The United States and our allies must counter Putin’s aggressive efforts to coerce and control Europe by making the Continent more dependent on Russian energy sources,” said Rubio. “This bipartisan bill in support of U.S. private sector investment in energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe will not only protect the national and economic security of the United States and our European allies, but will also strengthen our economies and create American and European jobs.”
“America’s allies need to know that the United States will actively work with them to reduce their dependence on Russian energy,” said Cardin. “We cannot sit on the sidelines and passively allow Russia to use its energy resources to endanger the stability and security of Europe.”
“Putin’s global campaign to test our resolve and undermine the United States and our allies by leveraging their energy dominance in Europe cannot go unanswered,” said Gardner. “This bipartisan bill will help promote energy independence and diversify the energy portfolios of our European allies, reducing Russia’s ability to bully Central and Eastern European nations.”
The European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 would:
- Authorize up to $1 billion in financing to catalyze U.S. public and private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in eligible countries from fiscal year 2019 to 2023, including:
- Natural gas infrastructure such as interconnectors, storage facilities, LNG import facilities, and reverse flow capacity.
- Electricity infrastructure, including transmission infrastructure, storage projects, and smart grids.
- Authorize $5 million per year in appropriations for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for project feasibility studies, reverse trade missions, pilot projects, and technical workshops to support projects in the earlier stages of development.
- Encourage the State Department to ramp up its political and diplomatic support to eligible countries such as by facilitating negotiations for cross-border energy infrastructure and assisting eligible countries improve their energy markets and regulatory environments.