Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley
On January 12, H.R. 22 — legislation that would ban sales from the Department of Energy controlled Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to any entity affiliated with China — passed the House with a 331-97 vote. In a rare bipartisan moment in the 118th Congress, especially for energy policy, members crossed party lines to support the legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The big question now is whether the Senate will act on the measure. Sen. Ted Cruz has an identical companion measure with 12 co-sponsors. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has given no indication of whether he will bring the measure up for a vote. Given the strong vote out of the House, as well as the rapidly deteriorating relationship with China after the balloon shootdown fallout and other rising tensions, it seems very likely that should the package come up for a vote, it would pass.
In fact, we can expect anti-China legislation to be a bit of a focus in Congress for the next few months, with a number of new sanctions packages targeting Chinese companies who produce surveillance equipment. We can also expect the majority of the Section 301 tariffs to remain in place, even though some opponents of the tariffs had appeared to be making some headway against them given rising inflationary pressures.
Costs of Russia/Ukraine Conflict Continue to Rise In Europe
As the Russia/Ukraine crisis nears its one-year anniversary with no clear end in sight, the costs of the conflict continue to spiral around the world. European countries have faced the most significant costs due to their reliance on Russian gas to power their economies. So far, the bill to shield households and companies in Europe from soaring energy costs has climbed to nearly 800 billion euros.
European Union countries have now earmarked or allocated 681 billion euros in energy crisis spending, while Britain allocated 103 billion euros and Norway 8.1 billon euros since September 2021, according to the analysis by think-tank Bruegel. The 792-billion-euro total compares with 706 billion euros in Bruegel’s last assessment in November.
Germany has spent 270 billion euros so far, which is the highest in Europe. This has allowed Germany to avoid massive industrial shut-downs which could jeopardize its highly industrialized economy. Britain, Italy and France were the next highest, each spending less than 150 billion euros.
With no end in sight to the crisis, European leaders are left with difficult choices. They are going to have to decide between continuing to subsidize the high energy prices or use the money to invest in new energy infrastructure which would primarily be fossil fuels. Hopefully European countries will choose to bet on their own long term energy security and make the necessary investments to ensure reliable energy access for the long term.
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Tim Tarpley, Energy Workforce President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.