The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to condemn Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline project that the U.S. believes will undermine Europe’s energy security.
“It attempts to drive a wedge between NATO allies,” said Texas Republican congressman Michael Conaway, the sponsor of the resolution. The Texas lawmaker went on to say Russia’s claims about the project — such as that Europe is in need of more pipeline infrastructure and that the project would reduce gas prices — were downright false. “Nord Stream is a danger to peace as we know it. Our NATO colleagues should see clearly what it is,” Conaway continued.
House lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of H.Res. 1035, a non-binding resolution that “expresses opposition to the completion of Nord Stream II, the gas pipeline that would transport natural gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany, urges the President to support European energy security through a policy of diversification to lessen reliance on Russia,” and supports “the imposition of sanctions with respect to Nord Stream II,” according to a congressional summary of the resolution.
Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline project which, if completed, will transport natural gas across the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany — with the ability to move around 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. The proposal has been warmly welcomed by the Germany, which expects its natural gas demand to increase. Russia also wants to see Nord Stream 2 reach fruition, where it could potentially double its natural gas exports to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The project, however, is sharply opposed by U.S. and E.U. leaders.
Russia already wields commanding influence over Europe’s energy market, controlling almost 40 percent of the continent’s supply of gas. A total of 11 European nations currently rely on Russia for 75 percent or more for their annual gas needs. Russia’s near monopoly of Europe’s gas market would only be cemented further if Nord Stream 2 is completed, regional leaders worry.
“If built, Nord Stream 2 could alter the landscape of the EU’s gas market while not giving access to a new source of supply or a new supplier,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wrote in a June letter to several E.U. members states. “No market operator should be able to leverage a position of dominance to the detriment of competitors and consumers.”
As an alternative to Russian energy, President Donald Trump has highly touted American LNG to his European counterparts. The president, who has made U.S. energy dominance a major part of his platform, has held strategic talks with Juncker and president of Poland about buying more American natural gas.
The hardline position the U.S. taken has not helped American-German relations. Germany, which wants the pipeline built into its country, has publicly warned U.S. officials not to meddle in their affairs.
“This is part of European core interests,” German diplomat Andreas Michaelis said during an October conference. “I don’t want European energy policy to be defined in Washington.”
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