DATE: March 9th, 2022

CONTACT: Erik Mebust, erik@climatepower.us

Washington, D.C. –  President Biden’s announcement of a ban on Russian oil and gas imports was properly declared to be ‘Putin’s price hike.’ The President went on to note that we should think about what working people see when they go to the gas station, and how it should motivate us to accelerate a transition to clean energy while warning Big Oil against profiteering in this delicate moment. 

National security leaders reacted positively to the message, as did journalists, energy experts, and members of Congress. Military leaders have long called for the nation to transition away from fossil fuels. In 2004, future Secretary of Defense under President Trump James Mattis reflected on the initial campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq with a call for the Department of Defense to “unleash us from the tether of fuel.” Current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called climate change an “existential threat” to national security, and this week, former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Europe’s dependence on oil & gas “emboldened Putin,” and that there is an “urgent need to move the world to alternatives.”

The President’s statements represented a doubling down on the message he used in his first State of the Union address, when Biden emphasized that the clean energy we need to reduce emissions is a key engine for the economy. Biden stood before Congress to urge lawmakers to pass “[his] plan to fight inflation,” noting the $500 savings the plan’s clean energy tax credits would bring households. 

Here’s what national security voices are saying:

Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy

“The way to fight Putin, in the long run, is to shift the world economy away from the oil and gas that keeps him affluent, armed and arrogant. […] Only by pushing the world economy to renewable sources like wind and solar — which are controlled locally and essentially bulletproof from foreign manipulation — can nations regain their economic sovereignty.” [The Hill, 3/2/22]

Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, former assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment

“Make no mistake if we were not addicted as an international community to fossil fuels, this war never would have happened.” [Twitter, 3/8/22]

“The only way to reduce the power of oligarchs and dictators fueled by gas and oil is to stop our reliance upon these sources of energy. When we stop needing to buy their products, we stop allowing them to use their fuel as bullying instruments of power and diplomatic leverage. Rapidly expanding our American and allied renewable energy portfolios protects us from dictators, price swings and a continuing fossil fuel driven threat of geopolitical chaos. That is the 21st century definition of true energy and national security.” [The Hill, 3/3/22]

Erin Sikorsky, director of the Center for Climate and Security

“Not only do fossil fuels create climate risks, they create geopolitical risks that we’re seeing play out in real time right now. […] we need to build energy resilience in the United States so that we can withstand shocks to the system, and the way that we do that is by doubling down in investments in clean energy.” [WBUR – Here & Now, 3/7/22]

Janessa Goldbeck, CEO, Vet Voice Foundation

“The only way out of this crisis is for the US to become energy secure, and fast. We must immediately wean the American economy and its people off fossil fuels and invest in the burgeoning green energy markets, creating more jobs, more American prosperity, and a livable future.” [Twitter, 3/8/22]

Here’s what administration officials are saying:

Amos Hochstein, special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs at the State Department

“If there’s anyone that’s standing in the way, according to them, it’s their financial backers, who are insisting on dividends and fiscal discipline in the face of a war in Europe, and the highest prices we have seen in a couple of generations. And that’s not a US government problem. If there’s a bottleneck it is on Wall Street. They should call their financiers and tell them there’s a war going on. The American public is paying the price.” [Financial Times, 3/8/22]

Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff

“I think you heard the president make the case tonight for lowering energy costs for consumers by making this transition to a more clean energy future. You heard him talking about how much money people could save, a common sense, pocketbook argument for investing in these technologies, giving people tax credits to weatherize their homes and businesses and things like that. Giving tax credits to increase our production of sustainable energy. And obviously promoting a transition to more and more electrical vehicles—the President talked about how many jobs that would create, the President talked about how much that money would save people by not having to buy gasoline. ​​ And so I think that there’s a lot of opportunities there. I think we’re going to try to find a path forward in the Senate to pass that legislation, and that’s what we’re focused on. That’s what you heard the president articulate tonight.” [Twitter, 3/1/22]

Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council of United States

“This really highlights and underscores the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel in the medium term. That’s the plan the president laid out last night.” [MSNBC, 3/2/22]

Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury

“I am optimistic about the U.S. economic recovery.  President Biden’s policies will increase the productive capacity of our economy to boost long-term growth, protect the environment, and promote equity.” [Twitter, 3/2/22]

President Biden (Twitter)

“This crisis is a stark reminder: To protect our economy over the long term, we need to become energy independent. It should motivate us to accelerate our transition to a clean energy future.” [3/8/22]

Here’s what key members of Congress are saying:

Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-07)

“One reason we’re paying $4 a gallon for gas is that a Saudi prince is angry that we criticized him for for murdering a Washington Post journalist. If the alternative to relying on a Russian tyrant’s oil is a Saudi tyrant’s oil, maybe we should be less reliant on oil?” [Twitter, 3/7/22]

“Republicans should acknowledge: the ONLY way to defeat Russian energy blackmail is to end our dependence on oil and make America the world’s clean energy superpower.” [Twitter, 3/4/22]

Sen. Ed Markey (MA)

“Now we need to make the ban on Russian fossil fuel permanent and rapidly accelerate the clean energy revolution in America. Union-powered, renewable energy will put us on the pathway to peace.” [Twitter, 3/8/22]

Sen. Chris Murphy (CT)

“The bottom line is that American producers will ramp up oil production when prices are high enough, not when American national security requires it. And Biden’s policies don’t explain the industry’s decision making. The Ukraine crisis is just an excuse to drive up profits.” [Twitter, 3/8/22]

Sen. Ron Wyden (OR), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee

“While our package of clean energy tax incentives is first and foremost a way to reduce drastically carbon emissions, it will also reduce energy costs and further lessen our reliance on foreign oil and gas, including from authoritarian regimes. This will bolster our national security and diplomatic strength. We need to move this package as soon as possible—opposition to it is now simply a commitment to be reliant on tyrants like Putin for decades to come.” [Office of Sen. Wyden – press release, 3/1/22]

Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)

“It is clear we are at a precipice with fossil fuels  – it is the time to protect our nation and move to renewable energy.  I’m ready to partner with @POTUS to address this national security issue. #SOTU” [Twitter, 3/1/22]

Here’s what journalists, clean energy experts, environmental justice activists, and labor leaders are saying:

Navin Nayak, Counselor for the Center for American Progress

“We are the world’s largest producer of oil and gas and yet it hasn’t actually provided us any freedom from these petrol dictators—and we should be focused on getting free from that.” [CNN, 3/7/22]

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

“The ban should make it clearer than ever how urgently we need to accelerate renewable energy and hasten the end of fossil fuels that empower autocrats and are incompatible with a safe and secure planet.” [3/9/22]

Dan Rather

“Leading the world away from a dependence on fossil fuels is a matter of national and global security.” [Twitter, 3/6/22]

Jennifer Rubin

“This time, Biden tried to flip the script on Republicans and also Democratic friends of oil and coal such as Manchin Biden explained the one surefire way to reduce energy costs is to shift to renewable energy.” [Washington Post, 3/8/22]

Ezra Klein

“Russia, inflation, and energy are deeply linked. […] The leverage energy dependence has given Russia is all the more reason to start racing towards decarbonization, not just for us but for Europe. That would weaken Russia, and other noxious petrostates, and lower the climate threat, and the threat of air pollution, and and and…” [Twitter, 3/2/22]

Clean Energy For America

“The president was right on the money: Congress must power American clean energy to new heights.” [Twitter, 3/1/22]

Black Millennials For Flint

“Lead pollution is a major #EnvironmentalJustice issue, disproportionately hurting kids & frontline communities. At this #SOTU we recognize the historic investments the infrastructure act includes to #GetTheLeadOut. We must make sure every community gets this $ that needs it.” [Twitter, 3/1/22]


“Clean energy technologies like #solar and #storage are critical to U.S. energy independence, national security, and our #climate future. President Biden is right: Congress must act to boost America’s clean energy economy. #SOTU” [Twitter, 3/1/22]

Sierra Club

“Investing in clean energy, in clean air and water, and in a safe, livable climate will create millions of jobs, help address inflation, and build a better America. The House of Representatives has taken action; it’s past time the Senate passes legislation investing in climate, jobs, and justice too.” [Sierra Club – press release, 3/1/22]