White House eyes energy push as Russia strategy

The White House is weighing a new round of executive actions to boost the U.S. energy industry in an attempt to portray strength against Russia.

The moves the White House is considering — President Donald Trump’s third effort to help pipeline companies — include possible executive orders that would weaken states’ power to block energy projects and ease the construction of new pipelines to facilitate the movement of a glut of domestic oil and gas, according to a senior administration official and others familiar with the effort.

The administration official said the pipeline executive order would be “quite similar” to the president’s previous actions, but “broader, deeper.”

Trump has promoted energy as an economic and national security boon throughout his presidency. In recent weeks, he has amped up the energy-focused rhetoric, making the case in public and private that low oil and gasoline prices are a sign of the success of his policy agenda — and an indication that he isn’t a pawn of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is not only about economic growth and power. A lot of this is about international security policy. We’re aiming at the Russians. We can beat them,” the senior administration official told POLITICO.

But a series of executive orders is unlikely to muffle allegations that the president and his allies have kowtowed to Russia, especially with the prospect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation hanging over the White House.

[Read More]