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Russia’s biggest weapon (and China’s too) is fossil fuel energy  

Hon. Don Ritter

March 2023

Russia’s biggest weapon (and China’s too) is fossil fuel energy  

Russia’s biggest weapon (and China’s too) is fossil fuel energy  

US focus on climate change and fossil fuel suppression is courting a national security disaster

The capacity of a modern economy to produce food and goods for its citizens, and weapons and fuel for its military to project power, are the undeniable twin pillars of global power. Both depend on reasonably priced and readily available energy.

Almost 80% of America’s energy is supplied by oil, gas and coal. Only 20% comes from other sources such as hydropower, nuclear, wind and solar. Even the greenest’ of economies will need fossil fuel backup when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Wind and solar provide 5% of our total consumption and only 2% of the energy to power some 290 million vehicles.

In other words, American literally runs and fights on fossil fuels.

Russia, despite an economy smaller than Italy’s, has shown it could defy all international norms and invade a neighboring country because it has abundant energy.

Weapons, and more weapons. First it was Javelins, then Howitzers, then HIMARS, then anti-missile and drone capability, then longer range ATACMS, then better tanks, now F-16s. Who can tell what the next weapon will be needed to defend against Russian aggression?

Russia has its weapons, too, and they are being paid for by the sale of oil, gas, coal, and fossil fuel-derived products like petrochemicals, fertilizers, etc. Russian missiles, planes, drones, tanks and artillery that shed Ukrainian blood and destroy homes, hospitals and electric-power stations are bought with Russia’s fossil fuel revenues.

Energy is Russia’s greatest weapon as it makes possible all the others. Only with such revenues can Russia continue its devastation of Ukraine. A new Russian offensive is brewing, and it too will be financed by its energy revenues.  Russians from Putin on down are talking about a much longer war because they have the revenues to support one and they don’t have to worry about a citizen-taxpayer revolt or getting reelected.

While the U.S. and Europe have restricted their purchases and consumption of Russian energy, it is sold elsewhere. That energy sells at a discount, but Russia is still earning hundreds of billions of dollars from energy sales and thus able to continue its war for as long as Putin wants. In spite of sanctions, Russia sold over $350 worth of fossil fuels in 2022. In the meantime German keeps its fracking ban.

To achieve peace in Europe and avoid potential wars elsewhere, one would think that America and the West would be increasing their own supply of oil, gas and coal and driving down prices on the global market. Such initiative would also give fence-sitting counties like India and Brazil in the “Global South” alternative sources to substitute for Russian products.

One would also think that the West would understand that its ability to replenish weapons and ammunition being sent to Ukraine and resist aggression, anywhere, like Taiwan for example, is based on production, shipment and fueling with fossil fuels and decidedly not on wind and solar. There will never be and electric tank!

And why not drive down drive down the price that Russia receives for its energy, while providing the economic and military security derived from fossil fuels? The answer from Europe and now America has been an emphatic “no.” Apparently, addressing the computer-modeled “climate crisis” takes priority over national defense, stopping Russian aggression in Europe, and securing reliable, affordable energy to power modern industrial economies and living standards.

The alternative – simultaneously furthering the technology of renewables like wind and solar while building up fossil fuels within an “all of the above” approach – is anathema to those who believe religiously that climate change is an existential threat. Ironically, the same people are happy to substitute U.S. fossil fuels with oil from dictatorships like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia. They don’t seem concerned that wind, solar and battery supply chains run mostly through Communist China.

An “all of the above” energy strategy would make it harder for Russia to finance its war, save Ukrainian lives and mitigate their suffering. It would show that America was willing to challenge Russia’s energy dominance now and into the future.

Sadly, the very opposite is happening. The U.S. is killing energy transport pipelines, curtailing permitting of refineries and natural gas export facilities, suppressing oil and gas leasing and drilling and, worst of all, stifling longer-term investment in the industry. Driven by an all-encompassing determination to limit CO2 emissions, Europe, and now America, have declared war of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, Russia and China burn oil, gas and coal and emit greenhouse gases at levels that dwarf the West’s.

Governments in Europe and now in America have utterly failed to see that, by suppressing fossil fuels, they are ceding enormous power to countries like Russia, Iran and China – who use those very fossil fuels to strengthen their own economies and military power and threaten others.

Energy has been weaponized and the West is in full energy-disarmament mode. The West is forfeiting its ability to gain peace through strength, with energy being the all-encompassing weapon in national and alliance arsenals.

The Russian people have experienced far greater suffering when total war was being waged on their own territory and millions perished. This time, the Russian people don’t feel the brunt of the war, so the pressure to end it is limited it and Russia’s vast fossil fuel revenues are available to continue it, perhaps for years.

It is doubtful that that support for Ukraine from potentially fickle Western democracies could last that long.

National economies and nations’ militaries still run on fossil fuels. There is no substitute for fossil fuel dominance, even on a longer-term horizon. To believe and act otherwise is suicidal. It’s the real “existential threat.”

Don Ritter holds a Science Doctorate from MIT and served fourteen years on the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce and Science and Technology Committees. He was a National Academy of Sciences Fellow in the USSR, speaks fluent Russian, and was Ranking Member on the Congressional Helsinki Commission and founding Co-Chair of the Baltic States-Ukraine Caucus.

After leaving Congress he created and led the National Environmental Policy Institute. He is a founder and President & CEO Emeritus of the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce, and a Trustee of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), where he co-chairs the Museum Capital Campaign.

 

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  • Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Paul Driessen

January 2021

Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Your life, living standards, country, and planet will take a big hit under the Green New Deal

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, AOC, the Democrat Party, and US environmentalists are committed to making climate change, the Green New Deal, and replacement of fossil fuels with wind, solar, battery, and biofuel power the centerpiece of their foreign and domestic policies.

They claim the transition would be easy, affordable, ecological, sustainable, and painless. That’s ideology and fantasy, not reality.

Wind and sunshine are certainly clean and renewable. Harnessing them to power America is not.

The GND would hit American families, jobs, living standards, and environmental quality hard. Western states would feel the brunt, because their fossil fuel rents, royalties, jobs and tax receipts would disappear, as drilling, fracking, and coal mining on federal lands are closed down. Their open spaces, scenic vistas, wildlife habitats and wildlife would be desecrated by wind turbines, solar panels, and transmission lines to serve distant urban voting blocs that dictate energy and land use decisions far beyond city lines.

Coal, oil, natural gas, and petroleum liquids still provide 80% of US energy. In 2018, they generated 2.7 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity – which would have to be replaced under an all-encompassing Green New Deal costing tens of trillions of dollars.

Another 2.7 billion MWh worth of natural gas-powered factories, emergency power systems, and furnaces, ovens, stoves, and hot water heaters in restaurants, homes and other buildings. Cars, trucks, buses, semi-trailers, tractors and other vehicles consumed the equivalent of yet another 2 billion MWh.

Altogether, that’s 7.4 billion megawatt-hours per year that the GND would have to replace! On top of that, we’d need at least another 150 million MWh of wind and solar generating capacity to charge batteries over and over to maintain just one week of nationwide backup power, to avoid blackouts.

The more we try to do so, the more we’d have to put turbines and panels in low-quality wind and solar sites, where they’d generate electricity only 15-20% of the year, 80-85% below “nameplate capacity.”

Of course, we could replace all this fossil fuel energy with nuclear power. But radical greens inside and outside the soon-to-be Biden Administration detest and oppose nuclear as much as they do fossil fuels.

That means this transformation to an all-electric nation would require millions of onshore wind turbines, thousands of offshore turbines, billions of solar panels, millions of vehicle battery modules, billions of backup energy storage battery modules, thousands of miles of new transmission lines, millions of charging stations, tens of billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, plastic, cobalt, rare earth elements and countless other materials – and digging up hundreds of billions of tons of overburden and ores!

If the United States and world could summon the will to mine, process and smelt enough metals and minerals – and manufacture, transport and install all those turbines, panels, batteries and transmission lines – the GND would require the greatest expansion of mining and manufacturing in human history.

But radical greens inside and outside of the Biden Administration detest and oppose US mining and manufacturing almost as much as they despise fossil fuels. That means we would have to go overseas for these essential metals and minerals – primarily to China and Russia, which have them within their boundaries or under their control in various African, Asian and Latin American nations.

They also have no reservation or hesitation about digging them up and processing them – without regard for child, slave or forced labor, workplace safety, air and water pollution, mined land reclamation or any other standards that we insist on in America. And it’s highly unlikely that Team Biden would demand that those countries implement such standards – or that it would refuse to import the metals, minerals and finished “green” technologies unless China, Russia and their foreign subsidiaries abide by our rules and regulations. The entire GND (and much more) would collapse without those unethical raw materials.

Moreover, nearly all this mining, processing and manufacturing would require gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal in those foreign countries, because those operations cannot be conducted with wind, solar and battery power. The fossil fuel use and emissions would take place outside the United States, but would not go away. Indeed they would likely double or triple. The carbon dioxide emissions would increase global atmospheric levels and, Team Biden insists, worsen climate chaos and extreme weather.

In fact, most wind, solar and battery mining, processing and manufacturing already take place overseas, under few or nonexistent workplace safety, fair wage, child labor and environmental laws. Some 40,000 Congolese children labor alongside their parents, for a couple dollars a day, while exposed constantly to toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air, to meet today’s cobalt needs. Imagine the GND toll.

Replacing oil and gas for petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics would require importing those feed stocks, as well – or planting millions of acres in canola, soybean and other biofuel crops. The water, fertilizer, pesticide, tractor, harvester, processing and transportation requirements would be astronomical.

All that work, and all those industrial facilities, would impact hundreds of millions of acres of scenic areas, food crop lands and wildlife habitats. Raptors, other birds, bats, and forest, grassland and desert dwellers would suffer substantial losses or be driven into extinction.

Most of those impacts would also occur in Midwestern and Western America, far from the voting centers and suspicious voting patterns that put Team Biden in office. But as they say, out of sight, out of mind – in someone else’s backyards.

The GND would also mean ripping out perfectly good natural gas appliances, replacing them with electric models, installing rapid charging systems for vehicles, and upgrading household, neighborhood and national electrical systems to handle the extra loads – costing more trillions of dollars.

Families, factories, hospitals, schools and businesses accustomed to paying 7-11¢ per kilowatt-hour for electricity would pay 14-22¢ per kWh, as they already do in “green” US states – or even the 35¢ that families now pay in Germany. Once they use more than some arbitrary “maximum baseline” amount of electricity per month, they will pay closer to 45¢ per kWh, as families already do in California.

How companies will survive, how many jobs will disappear, how many families will join the ranks of those who must choose between heating and eating – is anyone’s guess.

GND technologies are nearly 100% dependent on metals and minerals from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Chinese companies in Africa and Latin America. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop underscore concerns that America’s foreign, defense and domestic policies would be held hostage, while certain well-connected politicians, families and wind, solar, battery and biofuel companies get rich.

All these issues require open, robust debate – which too many schools and universities, news and social media outlets, corporate and political leaders, and Antifa thugs and arsonists continue to censor and cancel. That censorship and silencing must end before any votes or other actions are taken on any Green New Deal. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

Big Media and Big Tech are conspiring with Democrats, Greens and other authoritarian elements to shut down any and all discussion by anyone who does not support their agendas. Others are moving to persecute and prosecute President Trump and anyone associated with his administration and policies.

As anger and frustration build among the increasingly disenfranchised, America and the world could be heading into a frightening future indeed.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books, reports and articles on energy, environmental, climate and human rights issues.