WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Ranking Member and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, on Wednesday 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 U.S. financing 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.
“Corruption, graft, bribery, propaganda, illegal invasions – the Kremlin is doing everything it can to gain power over countries in their periphery. We’ve rightly invested billions to shore up military defenses in eastern Europe, but let’s not forget the equally dangerous implications of Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe,” said Murphy. “Vladimir Putin gets away with a lot because so much of Europe relies on Russia for energy. By helping our allies secure new sources of energy and contributing to strategically important projects, we can help break Putin’s grip on Europe and create jobs here in the U.S.”
“Russia has the means to coerce political behavior in nations that are dependent upon its energy. It has demonstrated its will to do so. This bill authorizes the USTDA and other agencies to support U.S. private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe. It will support U.S. national security interests by promoting increased energy security and market diversification in Europe,” said Johnson.
The European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2018 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 the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) $5 million per year in appropriations 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.