Energy policy by another name

71958648 LNG Tanker Linde AG
Donald Trump would like more of these liquefied national gas tankers moving between the US and Europe. Source: Linde AG

Seen from the United States, its recent sanctions against Russia look like a measured reaction to Russian meddling in the election of 2016. Seen from Germany, the sanctions look like a back-handed attempt to squeeze American energy exports into Europe and Russian energy out, with several European investors suffering collateral damage.

Why? Because the sanctions come just as Europe and Russia are busy working on two natural gas pipelines that would more directly import the raw material into power-hungry Europe. And just as President Trump pushes fossil fuels as a jobs engine.

“The American government has realized that energy can become the biggest driver of exports,” said Jason Bordoff, head of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a former adviser to President Obama. “Nowhere is it as easy to realize Trump’s promise to create jobs for American workers than in the energy sector.”

Germany fears the Trump administration is using the latest sanctions against Russia to achieve that goal. It’s part of why Berlin fought hard (without success) to have the sanctions eased. Russia currently provides 40 percent of the natural gas consumed in Germany. Washington’s newest Russian hand slap includes provisions that would punish Western companies helping finance Russian energy projects, such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under construction beneath the Baltic Sea.

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