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US lawmakers introduce resolution to support Eastern Europe energy independence

Three Seas initiative summit. (Presidency of Bulgaria/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on October 31 introduced a bipartisan resolution to support energy independence in Central and Eastern Europe, a day after Russia moved a step closer to completing a new gas pipeline to Germany.

Representatives Marcy Kaptur (Democrat-Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (Republican-Illinois) sponsored the resolution, which expresses U.S. support for new energy projects — including transportation and renewable energy generation — that enhance connectivity in the 12 countries located between the Adriatic, Black, and Baltic Seas and reduce their dependence on Russia. The 12-nation partnership is known as the Three Seas Initiative.

Eastern and Central Europe have historically been heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas, with Hungary still receiving all of its gas imports from Kremlin-controlled Gazprom. The region lacks energy infrastructure running along north-south routes that could help it diversify its energy sources, including imports from the United States.

“Russia has long used energy as a weapon to coerce and manipulate our European allies,” Kinzinger said in a statement introducing the resolution. “As American energy production continues to rise, we have an opportunity to support our allies in Central and Eastern Europe with an alternative.”

U.S. oil and gas production has surged over the past decade amid the shale revolution, enabling the country to end a ban on exports. Central and Eastern Europe require additional terminals and pipelines in order to increase imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas. The resolution reaffirms U.S. financial support for projects that advance U.S. economic or foreign policy interests.

The resolution comes a day after Denmark gave approval to Russia to lay a gas export pipeline through its waters, the last regulatory hurdle to the project’s completion.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Germany, doubling the country’s imports of Russia gas. Gazprom expects to complete the project — which is already more than 80 percent built — in the next few months.

Washington has criticized the Nord Stream 2 project, saying it will increase Europe’s dependency on Russian energy. The House and Senate are considering bills that would sanction the companies helping to build the pipeline.

“Now that Danish authorities have approved the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, we must now act swiftly to boost the energy security of our European allies by passing this critical legislation as well as sanctioning the pipeline,” Kaptur said in the statement.

No date has been set for a House vote on the resolution. House resolutions are not binding law but rather express the collective sentiment of the House on a particular issue, person, or event.