Sen. Paul: U.S. Response to Ukraine Crisis Should Be ‘Begin Drilling’

By Barbara Hollingsworth | March 11, 2014 | 3:19 PM EDT

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (AP Photo/David Kohl)

( –  Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says that the U.S. should be ramping up its production of oil and natural gas and “begin drilling in every possible conceivable place” in the event Russia cuts off energy supplies to Europe as a result of civil unrest in the Ukraine.

In an interview with host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” Paul said that President Obama should tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that any attempts to militarily annex the Crimea would “backfire.”

But if that happens, he added, the U.S. should be prepared to help its European allies, who are heavily dependent on energy from the Ukraine.

“The other thing is Putin needs to be warned, and I’m perfectly willing to tell him, that if he does occupy Ukraine, it will be chaos for him and for the world. If he creates a Syria out of Ukraine, what’s going to happen is 80 percent of his oil and gas is going through Ukraine. It will be a disaster for him. And so, he needs to be fully aware of that.

“The other thing I’ve said is that I would do something differently than the president because that 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 that we could supply Europe with if it’s interrupted from Ukraine.”

In a recent letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)  and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), ambassadors from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic urged Congress to break up a logjam of about two dozen pending liquefied natural gas (LNG) export license applications that have yet to be approved by the Energy Department. Only six permits have gotten a green light in recent years.

The U.S. has a decades-old ban on most crude oil exports, which was imposed after the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s. But even some oil state Democrats want the Obama administration to take a second look, including Senate Energy Committee chairman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) , who said she would “support lifting the ban if the scientific data shows that we should.”

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that natural gas production in the U.S. will increase 56 percent between 2012 and 2040, with most of the exports going to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, domestic oil production is expected to come “close to the historic high achieved in 1970” before entering a period of slowly declining production.

“Advanced technologies for crude oil and natural gas production are continuing to increase domestic supply and reshape the U.S. energy economy as well as expand the potential for U.S. natural gas exports,” according to EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski.

Projected natural gas exports to 2040.  (Energy Information Administration)