Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Sunday that he thinks the best way to respond to the crisis in Ukraine would be drilling for oil and natural gas “in every possible conceivable place” in the U.S.
Paul, who won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that if he were president, expanding drilling would be a key part of his response to Russia invading Ukraine.
“I would do something differently from the president,” Paul said. “I would immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas, and I would begin drilling in every possible conceivable place within our territories in order to have production we can supply Europe with if it’s interrupted from Ukraine.”
Paul isn’t the first American lawmaker to call for exporting gas to Europe in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine. Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the U.S. “should be upping our exports of natural gas to this region and showing there will be real consequences to these kind of actions.” A day later, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced a bill in the House that would force the Department of Energy to fast-track the approval of permits to export natural gas to Ukraine and other European Union and former Soviet countries. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation in the Senate which would also expedite natural gas export permits, saying that the Ukranian crisis “shows why we need to responsibly develop our natural gas reserves and expand our ability to export this resource abroad.”
But some say exporting natural gas to Europe and Ukraine is a more complicated solution than these lawmakers let on. As Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations points out, decisions on where to ship gas are made primarily by the market, not by governments, and it’s much more profitable for the U.S. to ship gas to Asia. The New York Times Editorial Board added Friday that Putin “would not stand idly by” if the U.S. exported gas to Europe, and could lower the price of Russia’s gas to keep customers from switching to American gas. The Times also noted that even if bills expediting permits were approved, “setting up more facilities to liquefy and ship gas would take years and cost billions of dollars.”