Legislation with bipartisan support might bring more natural gas online, further imperiling climate targets.

By Kate Aronoff, The New Republic

Who’s going to profit from the United States diving headfirst into a wildly unpopular war in Ukraine? The $500 million Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022—now being rushed through Congress—offers a few clues. Those clues suggest bad news for anyone hoping to see the world transition off fossil fuels in the next several decades.

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The House and Senate bills contain not just debilitating sanctions on Russian enterprises but also ample language about how the conflict could be used to whip up business for U.S. corporations, citing “mutually beneficial opportunities for increased investment and economic expansion between the United States and the Baltic states.” As has been true of the State Department’s communications about the potential conflict, the legislation mentions bolstering U.S. “support for the Baltic region’s physical and energy security needs,” a phrase that in recent history has tended to mean boosting fossil fuels. The Senate bill, introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, has 40 Democratic co-sponsors, joined by independent Angus King. The House version has 13 Democratic co-sponsors, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Greg Meeks.

The bills call for annual trade conferences “in coordination with the governments of Baltic states, to foster investment opportunities in the Baltic region for United States businesses.” They also encourage foreign direct investment in the region. The legislation specifically mention U.S. participation in the Three Seas Initiative and Business Forum, an ongoing effort between the U.S. and 12 Baltic and Eastern European governments launched in 2015 by right-wing governments in Croatia and Poland with the aim of furthering “economic growth, security and a stronger and more cohesive Europe.” U.S. involvement in the Initiative has been strongly encouraged by the Atlantic Council, a think tank that accepts considerable donations from Chevron, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Crescent Petroleum, the U.S. State Department, and the natural gas export firm Cheniere, and has convened multiple meetings for U.S. ambassadors to the region. “As the United States looks to confront Russian and Chinese economic and geopolitical competition in Europe and across the world, the Three Seas Initiative offers an opportunity to strengthen the economies of U.S. allies in Central and Eastern Europe and reduce their dependence on Moscow and Beijing’s economic overtures,” the Atlantic Council writes on its website.

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