Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy questioned White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about President Joe Biden’s commitment to “climate leadership” after “allowing” the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline while blocking the Keystone XL pipeline.
Doocy asked Psaki to explain how Biden is “urging other countries to take ambitious climate action” after the administration reportedly decided it would waive sanctions on the Russian company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany.
“President Biden blocked the Keystone XL pipeline here because he said it would undermine U.S. climate leadership and undercut our ability to urge other countries to take ambitious climate action,” Doocy said. “So how is he urging other countries to take ambitious climate action when he’s letting other countries build Nord Stream 2?”
Psaki pushed back on Doocy’s suggestions that the administration was “letting other countries build Nord Stream 2,” and that the pipeline was 95% complete at the time that Biden took office.
“We’ve continued to convey that it’s a bad idea, a bad plan, and we’ve also put in place and taken actions over the last several days to make that clear, in large part because it is our view that it is a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security and that of Ukraine and the eastern flank NATO allies and partners,” Psaki responded.
“Hence there’s a geopolitical concern about this pipeline and we’ve taken steps over the last several days to make that clear,” she added.
Construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have carried roughly 800,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, was halted on Biden’s first day of office, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Upon revoking the permit for the pipeline, Biden said “leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” according to the AP. (RELATED: Keystone XL Pipeline To Be Scrapped Again)
The decision to waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 indicated that Biden was not willing to potentially damage U.S. relations with Germany over the pipeline, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously said he was “determined to do whatever we can to prevent that completion” of the pipeline, according to Axios. (RELATED: Trump Spent Years Sabotaging Putin’s Nord Stream 2 Dreams. Now Biden Is Helping Them Come True)
Doocy suggested that there appeared to be an opportunity for the U.S. government to sanction officials and stop the pipeline construction at 95%, but ultimately did not. Psaki questioned how it would’ve been possible to halt a nearly completed project in another country, and emphasized that the administration placed sanctions on Russian ships involved in Nord Stream 2 construction.
“We placed sanctions on four Russian entities, four Russian vessels engaged in sanctionable activities,” Psaki said. “We’ve also placed sanctions on nine vessels belonging to the Russian government. This is the largest number of entities listed under this act to date so we’ve certainly taken significant steps and we’ve made clear in public and private channels our opposition to this plan.”
Axios reported that sources said Biden officials determined the only way to have stopped the project is to sanction German end users of the gas, which the administration is not willing to do since it could damage relations with Germany.
The completion of Nord Stream 2 would be a significant geopolitical win for Russian President Vladimir Putin because Russian gas must flow through Ukraine to reach Germany, and could allow Russia to boost its leverage in Europe. Former President Donald Trump approved sanctions to deter its completion, citing these concerns.