It’s been said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

As the U.S. and the world observe in real-time the consequences of Russia’s grip over European energy supplies, a strategic stranglehold that has played no small part in Putin’s attempt to seize Ukraine, U.S. leaders must take steps to enhance our own energy security. By taking decisive actions such as renewing the Interior Department’s five-year offshore leasing program and bolstering American energy infrastructure, U.S. leaders can chart a course that will protect American consumers as well as our global partners from market turmoil and volatility that inevitably follow a geopolitical crisis.

For years, Ukraine has depended heavily on Russian oil and natural gas supplies, giving the Russians undue political influence over Ukrainian affairs. The same is true for other nations across Europe, where President Vladimir Putin has used dependence on Russian energy as leverage for economic coercion and as a tool to avoid punishment for various Russian misdeeds. 

The consequences of this strategy are dangerous. Putin knows that European countries that depend heavily on Russian energy exports will fail to embrace the demand for leadership and turn off the Russian spigot when Russia threatens. Putin has tested this theory, perhaps successfully, with his illegal and inhumane invasion of Ukraine. Any country, like Germany, poised to come to Ukraine’s aid is too reliant on Russia to push back and risk losing its oil and gas lifeline. 

The U.S. must pay close attention to these lessons. As Lt. General H.R. McMaster testified to Congress in April, “Policies and legislation should focus on the goals of reducing the coercive power of authoritarian regimes over energy supplies, integrating energy security and climate policies, and removing bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles to progress to meet burgeoning global energy needs.” 

The question remains topical: can the U.S. avoid the fate of Europe? Clearly, the answer is yes by focusing on domestic energy production and developing new infrastructure. 

Last year, the U.S. averaged 672,000 barrels of Russian crude oil and petroleum product imports per day. So far, the replacement solution being pursued by the Biden administration is supplanting Russian barrels with those from Venezuela and Iran, two hostile countries whose help would do nothing to increase our energy security.

The more dependable solution is to develop more energy supplies here at home and build the supply chain and network necessary to get those supplies to customers at home and abroad. As Aaron Pluto, an advisor on Russian and Central Asian affairs in the U.S. Central Command, has  pointed out, “The Keystone XL pipeline would move up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada, more than enough supply to cancel out the nearly 672,000 barrels per day of Russian oil the U.S. imported in 2021.” 

Unfortunately, projects such as Keystone XL remain stuck in red tape or disregarded altogether because of political agendas. Equally troublesome is the political theater around the administration’s move to restart onshore oil and gas leasing. The administration claims the move — which actually hikes operators' royalty rates —  was a result of pressure from a court order, but they continue to add new barriers to increasing energy production rather than removing them.

The Interior Department’s five-year offshore leasing program is encountering some of the same trouble, possibly shelving vast amounts of American oil and gas that could help replace Russian supplies. The stakes are high. If we no longer have the program, or even if it’s delayed, we stand to lose almost 500,000 barrels per day from 2022 to 2040. On the other hand, if we renew the program, the Energy and Industrial Advisory Partners estimates that the Gulf states would produce an average of 2.6 million barrels of oil and natural gas per day during that time period. The magnitude of this decision is immense. For example, in the year 2036, if the Gulf of Mexico does not have offshore production, it could mean 885,000 fewer barrels of oil and gas per day, a 33% decrease from potential production.

Fortunately, there is growing bipartisan support for renewing the plan. Sens. Joe Manchin and Mark Kelly have urged the Biden administration for renewal, explaining that tapping Gulf energy supplies would “enable the United States to become more energy independent to meet emerging geopolitical threats.” Former Louisiana Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon has argued the same, stating that Biden should “move swiftly and decisively to renew the 5-year offshore leasing program, creating a practical long-term solution for securing the energy resources we need to power America’s future.” 

As Lt. General McMaster testified, we have the energy resources we need and the “only requirement is public policy support from the federal government.”

To increase American energy security, the answer is simple. Get serious about increasing domestic energy production and stop blocking pipelines and other necessary infrastructure with red tape and political agendas. It is time to act. Global order is at risk. 

James “Spider” Marks is the former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. As the senior intelligence officer for the 2003 liberation of Iraq, Marks was responsible for creating a complete understanding of Saddam Hussein’s military capacity and his intentions.