Energy and Our Security
Posted August 28, 2020
Americans’ safety and security are critically linked to energy.
Whether it’s energy to power a growing economy or energy that keeps America free and strong in the world – and even reliable energy in the wake of a Category 4 hurricane – abundant domestic natural gas and oil are essential for our security.
Start with energy security during and after a major weather event, such as Hurricane Laura. While we don’t know all of Laura’s impacts, we do know that when the hurricane made landfall the U.S. was in good shape from a planning and resilience standpoint. Specifically, as the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil, and due to lower demand associated with COVID-19, U.S. inventories of crude oil and refined products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel were close to record highs. U.S. global leadership in natural gas and oil production and modern pipeline, refining and storage infrastructure all contribute to this important aspect of energy security.
Other discussions of energy security involve energy’s role in increasing American strength and safety in an often chaotic world. At the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers talked about policies to sustain and grow the U.S. energy revolution, which changed the trajectory of America’s energy – and national – security.
Safe and reliable American energy makes our country more secure and powers economic growth while also yielding important environmental benefits. We know this is true because millions of Americans lived through the alternative – years when the nation was weakened by domestic energy scarcity and increasing dependence on foreign sources of oil. In 1979, President Carter called that dependence “intolerable,” and every president that followed talked about the security benefits of more domestic production. Watch:
Abundant and reliable natural gas and oil from America make the country safer and more secure in a number of ways:
Reduces U.S. reliance on foreign energy
The U.S. energy revolution has:
- Made the U.S. the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas and oil
- Steadily lowered U.S. oil and petroleum product imports, from a high of 13.7 million barrels per day in 2005 to 9.1 million barrels per day in 2019
- Enabled increasing total energy exports, which in 2019 exceeded imports for the first time in 67 years
American energy has helped stabilize global markets, and energy exports help America’s friends abroad. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy historian Daniel Yergin:
America’s record oil production “not only contributes to U.S. energy security but also contributes to world energy security by bringing new supplies to the world.”
Strengthens U.S. global energy leadership
The United States has significantly reduced the ability of other nations to weaponize energy – by restricting access to it – while enhancing U.S. foreign policy. U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas:
“America’s energy dominance and energy production has a huge impact on geopolitical security and stability. … To the extent we become a dominant exporter of oil and gas … that helps geopolitical security and helps reduce our military expenditures.”
Meghan O’Sullivan of Harvard’s Kennedy School, in an interview with the Financial Times earlier this year:
The shale revolution bolstered the U.S. internationally by “altering the global strategic environment in a way that made it more conducive to U.S. interests. … The global energy abundance that was in large part due to American shale … helped U.S. allies and, on the whole, tended to harm its adversaries, from Iran to Russia to Venezuela.”
At the same time, domestic energy abundance supports energy exports, which also benefits American foreign policy interests. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year:
“We’re not just exporting American energy, we’re exporting our commercial value system to our friends and to our partners. The more we can spread the United States model of free enterprise, of the rule of law, of diversity and stability, of transparency and transactions, the more successful the United States will be and the more successful and secure the American people will be.”
Helps protect U.S. consumers
As mentioned above, U.S. supply going into global markets is stabilizing to them. This helps buffer Americans from the potential price shocks of geopolitical events – such as last year’s attack on a Saudi oil processing facility and Iranian attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Then, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice observed that U.S. energy had significantly changed the energy picture:
“[W]e’re seeing a structural change in the nature of oil markets largely because of the North American platform. … It really is a bit of a lesson, by the way, to the bad boys of the oil markets, that they can't play these games in quite the same way. I was Secretary of State when oil spiked at $146 a barrel. Nothing warps diplomacy like oil at $146 a barrel.”
Or, as API Chief Economist Dean Foreman put it: “Energy abundance is the security blanket that U.S. consumers have quietly counted on.”
Energy means security. American voters know this. In recent polling conducted in key 12 battleground and other states by Morning Consult, 93% said it’s important for the U.S. to produce enough energy to avoid being dependent on other countries, while nearly seven in 10 said increased domestic production has increased U.S. national security.
“We seek a nation that rises together, not falls apart in anarchy and anger,” former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said earlier this week. “We know that the only way to overcome America's challenges is to embrace America's strengths.”
Globally and at home, domestic natural gas and oil is one of those strengths.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.