A gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in the Baltic Sea has been at the top of headlines in recent weeks. I have heard from many Iowans asking what the pipeline is, why it should be shut down, and why they should care about it.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a natural gas pipeline in northern Europe. It would increase the capacity of a previous Nord Stream pipeline to 110 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. The gas would travel from western Siberia, under the Baltic Sea, to Germany. The project has been completed but has not begun operating.

The majority of Europe’s gas is imported, with almost half coming from Russia. Gazprom, the Russian state-owned natural gas company behind the construction of the pipeline, said that “Nord Stream 2 would help meet Europe’s growing need for affordable natural gas and complement existing pipelines through Belarus and Ukraine.”

For years, the United States and our allies have worked to prevent the completion and operation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, largely because Russia will clearly use it to influence their neighbors in Europe. Many, myself included, have argued that President Vladimir Putin would use this new pipeline to hold Europe hostage by threatening to cut off energy supplies.

In the National Defense Authorization Act that was signed into law at the end of 2020, Congress included sanctions for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that the Biden Administration has failed to implement. These sanctions would help contain the aggressive actions Russia has taken in recent months, especially toward Ukraine and the Baltic states.

To help our allies, we should connect them with clean American energy. Seriously investing in biofuels, supporting projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and the Line 5 pipeline, and restarting leases on public lands would do a lot of good not only to rebuild America’s energy independence, but also help our allies be less reliant on dirtier energy from Russia, Iran, and China.

Russia wants to use the pipeline as a political and economic weapon. The Kremlin has shown numerous times that we cannot trust them at their word. We need to act to help our allies in Europe before it is too late.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks is a resident of Ottumwa who currently represents Iowa’s Second District in the United States House of Representatives.