Obama Hints at European Fracking Following Russia Sanctions

He also made the case for importing more U.S. gas in a conference with the European Union’s two top leaders.

National Journal
Jack Fitzpatrick
March 26, 2014, 8:29 a.m.

BRUS­SELS — Pres­id­ent Obama didn’t dir­ectly call Wed­nes­day for Europe to start frack­ing for shale gas, but he strongly sug­ges­ted that coun­tries there di­ver­si­fy their en­ergy sources as the European Uni­on hits Rus­sia with sanc­tions over its an­nex­a­tion of Crimea.

Rus­sia’s ag­gres­sion in Crimea has high­lighted the E.U.’s de­pend­ence on gas that travels through pipelines in Ukraine. Isol­at­ing Rus­sia eco­nom­ic­ally would be less pain­ful for Europe if it did not de­pend so heav­ily on that gas, Obama said at a press con­fer­ence with European Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Her­man Van Rompuy and European Com­mis­sion Pres­id­ent Jose Manuel Bar­roso.

“This en­tire event has poin­ted to, I think, for Europe, how it needs to di­ver­si­fy its en­ergy sources,” Obama said.

De­clin­ing to spe­cific­ally en­dorse frack­ing, Obama said the U.S. has been “blessed by some in­cred­ible re­sources” re­cently.

Bar­roso, however, made clear his sup­port for frack­ing, say­ing it was a “bless­ing” for coun­tries that im­port gas from the U.S. rather than Rus­sia.

“European coun­tries will be­come less de­pend­ent on en­ergy com­ing from, let’s say, dif­fi­cult spots,” he said.

The state­ment also hin­ted at ne­go­ti­ations on the free-trade Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Pro­gram. Pres­id­ent Obama sug­ges­ted that U.S. li­que­fied gas ex­ports to the E.U. could in­crease de­pend­ing on the con­tents of the deal, which could re­duce tar­iffs and reg­u­la­tions in trade between the U.S. and E.U.

Brit­ish Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on has also called for frack­ing in Europe since the crisis in Crimea began. On Tues­day, he said Rus­sia’s in­va­sion was a “wake-up call” for coun­tries re­ly­ing on Rus­sia gas, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Obama walked a fine line on en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues in the press con­fer­ence, both pro­mot­ing the U.S.’s gas ex­ports and as­sur­ing Europeans that the United States would not push for more-lax European laws on en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion as part of the free-trade deal. He ad­dressed European con­cerns that the U.S. would try to re­duce bar­ri­ers to trade by ask­ing for weakened en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions, say­ing he has fought for en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tions dur­ing his “en­tire polit­ic­al ca­reer.”

But Obama also subtly cri­ti­cized the E.U. for heav­ily fa­vor­ing en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tion over en­ergy pro­duc­tion, say­ing the U.S. had made tough choices that the E.U. now faces.

“The truth of the mat­ter is, just as there’s no easy, free, simple way to de­fend ourselves, there’s no per­fect, free, ideal, cheap en­ergy sources,” he said. “Every pos­sible en­ergy source has some in­con­veni­ences or down­sides. And I think Europe is go­ing to have to ex­am­ine, in light of what’s happened, their en­ergy policies to find, are there ad­di­tion­al ways that they can di­ver­si­fy and ac­cel­er­ate en­ergy in­de­pend­ence.”

Neither Obama, Bar­roso, nor Van Rompuy ad­dressed wheth­er the U.S. and E.U. see Crimea as a lost cause, in­stead fo­cus­ing on the pos­sib­il­ity of ad­di­tion­al sanc­tions if Rus­sia be­comes ag­gress­ive to­ward any oth­er parts of Ukraine. Obama, who was at­tend­ing the E.U. sum­mit for the first time as pres­id­ent, em­phas­ized the U.S.’s co­ordin­a­tion with the E.U. on sanc­tions.

Obama also de­clined to ad­dress wor­ries in Europe over U.S. spy­ing pro­grams. Bar­roso said he and Van Rompuy have “con­cerns, shared widely by cit­izens in E.U. mem­ber states,” about U.S. sur­veil­lance, but that they had dis­cussed the is­sue with Obama earli­er in the day and are con­fid­ent about Obama’s pro­pos­als for NSA re­forms — in­clud­ing end­ing the agency’s mass col­lec­tion of phone data.

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
2 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×