WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday joined the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s markup of several pieces of legislation, including bills that would sanction Turkey for expanding its incursion into northeastern Syria and a Murphy-led bill that combats Russian influence and increases transatlantic security by supporting energy independence from Russia.
The European Energy Security and Diversification Act would, for the first time, allow the United States to help finance strategic energy projects in Europe and Eurasia. This is a substantial new tool for the United States to combat malign Russian influence and create economic opportunities at home and abroad. The bill was introduced by Murphy, along with U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Europe Subcommittee, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), ranking member of the Europe Subcommittee, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
"This is a piece of legislation that seeks to redress what has been an asymmetry in the way in which we try to combat Russia's attempts to curry favor in the region with its oil and gas,” Murphy said. “This would set up a capacity inside the new Development Finance Corporation to finance projects in and around Russia's periphery that would make those nations energy independent of Russia.”
Murphy continued: “Projects done in Europe would be done in consultation with Europe's priority list of projects that they are planning to put money into as well. And I think that this, frankly, is the best way ultimately to hurt Putin where it matters. If we are able to help make countries truly energy independent of Russia's energy largesse, then it effectuates so many U.S. national security goals in the region.”
Last week, Murphy gave remarks at the Atlantic Council’s conference on U.S. strategic interests in Ukraine. Murphy also pressed the State Department’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford about the need to create energy independence from Russia to help strengthen national security. In 2015, Murphy authored “Rethinking the Battlefield,” providing a comprehensive blueprint for how America can protect its citizens.
A transcript of Murphy’s remarks in Committee can be found here, as delivered:
MURHY: "I do have a revised first-degree amendment. But let me just thank all of my co-sponsors, in particular Senator Johnson, Senator Rubio, Senator Gardner, Senator Cardin, Senator Shaheen.
"This is a piece of legislation that seeks to redress what has been an asymmetry in the way in which we try to combat Russia's attempts to curry favor in the region with its oil and gas. This is I think, a compliment in many ways to Senator Barrasso’s legislation, which I am glad passed. This would set up a capacity inside the new Development Finance Corporation to finance projects in and around Russia's periphery that would make those nations energy independent of Russia.
"This is energy resource nonspecific, and so it would allow the Development Finance Corporation, in consultation with the Department of State, to make decisions about which projects would merit this kind of financing. Projects done in Europe would be done in consultation with Europe's priority list of projects that they are planning to put money into as well. And I think that this, frankly, is the best way ultimately to hurt Putin where it matters. If we are able to help make countries truly energy independent of Russia's energy largesse, then it effectuates so many U.S. national security goals in the region.
"I supported Senator Barrasso’s bill specific to LNG. This would allow the United States to finance a much larger scope of projects in the region. Again, I thank Senator Johnson for his work. I have a clarifying amendment to the manager’s package, Murphy first degree revised, that I ask
ed to be adopted."
MURPHY: "I certainly appreciate the spirit with which the Senator offers this amendment. I would oppose it. We have crafted language in this bill that frankly reflects previous legislation passed by this committee investing in energy security. This language mirrors that which was in the Power Africa Act.
"And as I noted in my opening statement, I share the same concerns that Senator Merkley does and Senator Markey do, about trying to make sure that we are financing projects that [are] indeed confronting the crisis of climate change. But I do note that in several parts of this bill, we prioritize projects that are part of the EU’s Strategic Investment Plan and the EU is of course prioritizing projects that are combating climate change.
"So, I think in the underlying language we give the kind of preference that Senator Merkley is looking for. I don't think that this amendment, nor Senator Markey’s if he should offer it, is necessary."
MURPHY: "Thank you. Again, I'd object to this amendment on the same grounds. I think the underlying language achieves that prioritization by deferring and including a reference to European energy prioritization; we are inevitably going to be in the business of funding projects that lean towards renewables and away from fossil fuels. And given that the underlying goal here, is really a national security goal, to try to break Russia's energy grip on its periphery, I think having some degree of flexibility here is important.
"I imagine this vote lines up very much like the other one, and I oppose the amendment."
"…Again, I believe that, that prioritization is already included in the underlying legislation because of the specific references that we have built into financing projects that have been already prioritized by the EU. The EU in their own energy financing goals, clearly state that renewables and projects that will reduce global warming emissions meet their criteria. So again, I think that we've done the work of this prioritization [in] the underlying bill."
MURPHY: "So this bill, which has taken a long time to get to this Committee, is a carefully constructed compromise between the sponsors of the legislation and you can probably guess where my sentiments would ultimately lie. But in interest of getting this bill through this Committee and getting it through the Senate, it's already passed the House of Representatives, and onto the president's desk, I'm going to oppose this amendment. Because I believe very legitimately, that the goals of this amendment are addressed in the underlying statute and to try to hold together the carefully crafted compromise. I'm going to oppose the amendment.”