WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday applauded the inclusion of his measure, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act, in the government spending bills to be voted on this week. This legislation, for the first time, allows 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.).
“Putin would be far less powerful if Europe and surrounding countries were not highly dependent on Russian oil and gas. Russia may hesitate to invade a NATO country, but they are actively pushing a predatory energy policy to gain political and economic leverage. That’s exactly why we should help finance energy independence projects in and around Moscow’s periphery, especially those that contribute to renewable energy goals. This is the smart thing to do for transatlantic security and redresses an asymmetry that’s a choice—America and its allies don't have to be powerless in the face of Russian energy dominance. I’m glad we’ll have a chance to vote on this legislation through the spending bills,” said Murphy.
The European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 as included in the FY20 omnibus would:
- Authorize approximately $1 billion in financing from FY20-FY23 to catalyze public and private sector investment in strategically important energy projects in European and Eurasian countries. This is a new tool to counter Russia’s predatory energy policies and promote the energy security of U.S. allies and partners;
- Increase funding for the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) by $31.5 million for FY20 to help connect American companies to business opportunities and provide feasibility studies, reverse trade missions, pilot projects, and technical workshops to support projects in the earlier stages of development; and
- 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.
This legislation cleared the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. Murphy questioned State Department’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford this month when they appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the need to create energy independence from Russia. Murphy also gave remarks this month at the Atlantic Council’s conference on U.S. strategic interests in Ukraine, where he addressed the need to support energy independence in Europe as a way to combat Russian influence.