Amer­ica’s en­ergy boom em­pow­ers diplo­mats

The Day - - OPINION - By JEROME DANNER Jerome Danner is a con­tribut­ing writer for the West­ern Free Press and the host of the “Think­ing It Through with Jerome Danner” pod­cast. He wrote this for In­sid­eSources.com.

T he United States re­cently sur­passed Rus­sia to be­come the world's top oil pro­ducer, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion. That mile­stone isn't just an eco­nomic suc­cess story — it's a for­eign-pol­icy vic­tory as well. Amer­ica's grow­ing en­ergy dom­i­nance is al­ready strength­en­ing our hand in ne­go­ti­a­tions with un­friendly regimes.

Safe­guard­ing this geopo­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage will re­quire re­forms that bol­ster our en­ergy in­dus­try and keep oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­tion boom­ing well into the fu­ture. The ad­vent of hy­draulic frac­tur­ing, or “frack­ing,” and hor­i­zon­tal drilling has un­locked pre­vi­ously un­tapped oil and nat­u­ral gas re­sources from shale rock for­ma­tions across the coun­try. This tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­tion has made Amer­ica a global leader in en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

The En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion cred­its frack­ing for Amer­ica's ti­tle as top global oil pro­ducer: “U.S. crude oil pro­duc­tion has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the past 10 years, driven mainly by pro­duc­tion from tight oil for­ma­tions us­ing hor­i­zon­tal drilling and hy­draulic frac­tur­ing.”

In Jan­uary, the United States pro­duced 11.7 mil­lion bar­rels of crude per day — up from 5 mil­lion bar­rels a decade ear­lier. Ad­di­tion­ally, our na­tion pro­duces more nat­u­ral gas than any other coun­try.

We are now a net ex­porter of nat­u­ral gas, which has caused a surge in Amer­ica's en­ergy ex­ports. In late Novem­ber, for the first time since 1973, Amer­ica ex­ported more crude and re­fined oil than it im­ported.

These trends rep­re­sent a huge win for Amer­i­can work­ers. Frack­ing alone has cre­ated 1.7 mil­lion jobs and is ex­pected to cre­ate 3.5 mil­lion more by 2035.

This new­found en­ergy dom­i­nance has re­shaped global pol­i­tics to Amer­ica's ad­van­tage. A world full of ea­ger cus­tomers is turn­ing to the United States to meet its en­ergy needs. Euro­pean na­tions are in­creas­ingly buy­ing U.S. liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas, help­ing re­duce their en­ergy re­liance on Vladimir Putin's Rus­sia. At the same time, the global in­flu­ence of less sta­ble en­ergy-pro­duc­ing coun­tries, such as Libya, Nige­ria and Venezuela, is on the wane.

A glut of do­mes­tic en­ergy re­sources has left the U.S. govern­ment bet­ter equipped to im­pose ef­fec­tive sanc­tions against coun­tries like Rus­sia and Iran. No longer does pun­ish­ing these oil-rich na­tions — whether for sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism, med­dling in elec­tions, or abridg­ing hu­man rights — come with se­vere po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic risks.

This sig­nif­i­cant global in­flu­ence can't be taken for granted. It's up to our lead­ers in Washington to en­act poli­cies that keep Amer­ica's en­ergy in­dus­try strong. Pres­i­dent Trump has al­ready done im­por­tant work with poli­cies to do just that. His 2017 tax over­haul con­tains new in­cen­tives to in­vest in pipe­lines and other oil and gas in­fra­struc­ture projects. Ear­lier in his ad­min­is­tra­tion, he ap­proved the stalled Dakota Ac­cess and Key­stone XL pipe­lines and re­duced many reg­u­la­tory im­ped­i­ments to en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

Such re­forms should re­main a pri­or­ity in the months and years to come. As long as po­lit­i­cal lead­ers lend a help­ing hand, Amer­ica's abil­ity to ex­port en­ergy around the world will only grow — as will our in­flu­ence.

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