Ukraine and Energy

America’s booming natural gas production could help Ukraine keep the heat and lights on amid Russia’s latest threat to cut off supplies, if the US cuts through troublesome red tape, lawmakers said. … The U.S. has port facilities that turn natural gas into liquid for export and more are under construction, but shipping to any country not bound by a free trade agreement with the US requires a federal permit. Since 2011, DOE has approved six [count ’em] applications for permits to export natural gas to non-free trade agreement nations, but Ukraine is not one of them. … [The] “Domestic Freedom and Global Prosperity Act”…would grant immediate approval of the 24 pending applications currently filed with the Department of Energy…. “This would send the clear signal that we are serious about enlarging the scope of natural gas exports, and immediately undercut Russia’s dominance,” [Congressman Fred (R, MI)] Upton said. “Russia has chosen to wield its energy resources as a geopolitical weapon to inflict harm on others. As the world’s emerging energy superpower, America has a newfound responsibility to help our allies.”

There are a lot of logistics problems along this path to work out, but that puts a premium on getting started; these problems cannot be allowed to serve as excuses for not bothering. Again.

On top of that, we also need to stop sending signals and start sending stuff—like oil and gas, like weapons, like intel, like…—to Ukraine, as well as sending oil and gas to Germany and the rest of the EU.

2 thoughts on “Ukraine and Energy

  1. Any time there’s a fight, both sides will get hurt to some degree. Regarding the ISS in particular, though, a couple of things:

    -the Russians have no capability to return cargo, like science experiments, of any mass at all to Earth from the station–all their transports, with the exception of their man-rated Soyuz, burn up in the atmosphere, by design. Only SpaceX has that capacity, and it returned two tons of goodies over the weekend. OSC is developing that capacity, but they’re not there yet. The Russians can’t even get their heavy lift rockets to work–they just lost another Proton-M last week, destroying a $29M comsat in the process.

    -our lack of manned access to the ISS is self-inflicted, to be sure. However, SpaceX expects to have man-rated capsules by 2017. OSC isn’t far behind. And Virgin Galactic is about to make the whole thing a ticketed affair.

    -the Russians can’t maintain the ISS without us–they don’t have the technical skills or the lift and return capacity–their Progress capsules, Soyuz variants, have a 2-ton capacity, but one-way. Nothing comes back except the scraps they can fit into their Soyuz.

    The Russians’ cutting us off from the ISS is only a temporary phenomenon. Our cutting the Russians off from technology transfer–and stopping a current arms sale to them–will cause them more trouble.

    Eric Hines

  2. When you deal with the devil, he’s gonna get paid. I learned from my wife today that Putin is refusing to transport Americans to the space station, despite earlier promises to do so. And, of course, we have shut down our ability to get them there. Without getting into the merits of the space station, if you give Putin a chokehold he’ll use it. Obama apparently thinks that making a few speeches is the appropriate response, rather than actually doing something.

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