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Reps. Malliotakis, Bilirakis Question US Nixing of EastMed Plan

Malliotakis EastMed
Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and Gus Bilirakis, (R-FL) sent a strongly-worded statement to the Biden Administration over its abandonment of the EastMed pipeline. Credit: Twitter/ Michail Ignatiou

United States Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) sent a stern letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week vociferously objecting to the Administration’s recent reversal of support for the EastMed Pipeline.

In a strongly-worded rebuke of the administration’s withdrawal of support for the joint Israel/Cyprus/Greece project, which would have brought oil to Greece from a pipeline under the Mediterranean, the two Greek-American representatives charged that the US undermining the project.

By effectively nixing the EastMed deal, they said, the Biden Administration is undercutting three of the country’s strongest allies in the region as well as the European Union’s hopes for energy independence and economic prosperity.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

EastMed was supposed to have been completed by 2025

At a time when Europe is facing an unprecedented increase in energy prices, spurred by political, geographic, and market forces, the letter stated, the natural gas that would have resulted from the building of the pipeline would have been a game-changer.

“Despite Europe’s decades-long push toward green and renewable energies, the surge in energy prices has ironically led to the increased use of coal to meet demand,” Bilirakis explained in the letter. “As natural gas is a cleaner energy option when compared to coal, it is a crucial energy source for governments seeking to transition to greener energy sources. The European Union recognizes this fact and has declared the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline a ‘special project.’

“The Biden Administration’s actions in this matter are particularly objectionable and hypocritical in light of its tacit approval of Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, which will only deepen Europe’s energy dependence on a volatile adversary,” said Congressman Bilirakis.

“The Administration must realize the significant economic, environmental, and national security implications that are at stake in this matter and reconsider its decision to withdraw support for this critical project.”

Malliotakis, the freshman US Congresswoman from New York, charged in the letter that “President Biden’s decision to shut down America’s Keystone XL Pipeline, greenlight Putin’s NordStream 2 pipeline, and now disavow the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli EastMed Pipeline is a microcosm of this Administration’s failed energy and foreign policy agendas.

Greek-American Representatives state Putin planning to invade Ukraine when energy demand highest

Russian President Vladimir Putin “is once again using Europe’s reliance on Russian gas to seek concessions from Europe… preparing to invade Ukraine in the middle of winter when energy demand is highest,” Malliotakis and Bilirakis declared in the letter.

“This President is asleep at the wheel, and his decision-making could cause severe economic and national security consequences for America and our allies.”

To view the entire letter Representatives Bilirakis and Malliotakis sent to the Biden Administration, please click here.

The Biden administration recently informed the governments of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus that it no longer supports the proposed pipeline from Israel to Europe, reversing former President Trump’s position.

Since the plans for the gigantic undersea pipeline were announced back in 2016, the three countries have signed several agreements on it, although no financing on the €6 billion ($6.8 billion) had been arranged.

At a time when Greece and the rest of the nations of the European Union is declaring that they are moving away form all fossil fuels, the US has thrown its support behind another project, the connection of the energy grids of Cyprus, Israel and Europe.

Just last week, officials from the US Embassy in Jerusalem stated that Americans “remain committed to the energy security and connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The EuroAsia interconnector linking these three grids “allow for future exports of electricity produced by renewable energy sources, benefiting nations in the region,” the embassy said, adding that it “would not only connect vital energy markets but also help prepare the region for the clean energy transition.”

The Embassy admitted that, in light of recent political developments in Eastern Europe, this is “a time when Europe’s energy security is – more than ever – a question of national security;” accordingly, the US is “committed to deepening our regional relationships and promoting clean energy technologies.”

After the news broke in Greece about the withdrawal of support for the EastMed project, the US Embassy in Athens issued a similar statement, saying the US still supports the “3+1” meetings that have been ongoing for the last several years on a host of issues between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the US.

Turkey proposes own pipeline for Israeli natural gas

However, Turkey was quick to voice its opinion after the EastMed deal fell apart, stating that in the future, any natural gas from Israel should go first through Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered a deal of his own, saying “(If Israeli gas) would be brought to Europe, it could only be done through Turkey. Is there any hope for now? We can sit and talk about the conditions.”

Turkey had already thrown cold water on the deal earlier this month, when its state television channel showed a documentary which included State Department Senior Advisor for Energy Security, Amos Hochstein, voicing his opposition to the pipeline before he was selected fr that position. At the time, he had stated that he was “extremely uncomfortable with the US supporting this project” since it would mean an enormous investment in fossil fuels, which the whole world is supposedly moving away from.

Hochstein pointed out that the project would cost over €6 biillion, noting that international lenders themselves are also shying away from fossil fuels. Other experts have long argued that the cost of the 1,250 kilometers (777 miles) of the EastMed pipeline would be hard to cover.

Greece, Cyprus, Israel signed EastMed agreement in 2020

Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement in early January 2020 to construct the EastMed pipeline, to be completed by 2025, with an estimated cost of $7 billion.

The U.S. had been supportive of the project from the very beginning. Frank Fannon, then-Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) was present at a meeting in Athens in August 2019 when the project was agreed on.

Charles Ellinas, the CEO at EC Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company Ltd, who is also a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, has adopted that same line of thinking.

The Cypriot expert and Global Energy Council fellow spoke to the Ethnos newspaper about the pipeline, saying that it is a project that would have worked 10 years ago, but not now.

He said that the project will be scrapped by the end of the year and stressed that it is time to give priority to interconnected power cables.

Ellinas argues that focusing on EastMed makes it harder for us to consider other sources of energy and turn to Renewable Energy. “When we concentrate on projects that are not feasible, it is counterproductive. It pushes us in directions that are not feasible.”

Ellinas stressed that the EastMed pipeline is not economically viable, and “is technically difficult,” adding that “Europe’s continued transition to clean energy and renewable energy sources has made it even more difficult.”

The EU goal is the use of natural gas in Europe to be reduced by 25 percent by 2030 and to be abandoned completely by 2050.

It is noted that even Israel announced that it will stop researching natural gas and will focus on greater use of renewable energy sources. Greece is doing the same, setting as a goal the production of electricity from renewable energy by 61%.

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