U.S. could be net exporter of energy within a decade

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

By U.S. Senator Roger Wicker 

Temperatures are high, but gas prices are low, reaching their lowest mark in a decade during the Fourth of July holiday. 

That is good news for consumers, families, and small businesses.  Less pain at the pump can translate into more spending power for consumers, helping to boost the economy.

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Gas prices are not the only barometer for gauging the future of U.S. energy.  Rising U.S. exports in oil and natural gas are an encouraging sign that America’s energy independence is within reach.  The Energy Information Administration, an agency within the Department of Energy, has pinpointed 2026 as the year in which America could become a net exporter of energy.

This development is particularly significant when it comes to our national security interests.  An energy-independent United States could decrease its reliance on oil from volatile suppliers like Venezuela, which has been roiled by anti-government protests in recent months.  As a net exporter, the United States could also help bring energy security to Eastern Europe and lessen the influence that Russia is trying to gain in the region by leveraging its energy resources.

An end to Obama-era energy regulations

The Trump Administration recognizes the potential of U.S. energy.  The last week in June was designated “Energy Week” by the Administration to draw attention to its energy agenda and pursuit of “energy dominance.” 

Two early items on the agenda have been the expansion of oil and gas exploration and the rollback of Obama-era regulations impeding the development of domestic energy resources. 

In March, President Trump issued an executive order for a review of the Obama Administration’s costly rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions.  Although halted by the Supreme Court, these regulations had amounted to a job-killing war on coal and threatened to saddle Americans with higher energy bills. 

The President has also signed an executive order to initiate the process for offshore oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf.  Rather than picking winners and losers, the Trump Administration is seeking to put the interests of Americans first – with policies that promote economic growth and energy security.

A legislative look ahead

The Senate is also working to promote America’s energy future.  Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who lead the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, have introduced a comprehensive energy and natural resources bill that has already been put on the Senate calendar for consideration. 

The legislation, titled the “Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017,” follows the success of a 2015 energy bill that earned overwhelming support in the Senate.  The 2017 legislation addresses a host of energy-related issues that cross party lines. Included in the bill’s provisions is the need for better infrastructure, greater efficiency, responsible resource development, and expanded access for sportsmen on federal lands.

Such a broad and far-reaching bill focusing on America’s energy and natural resources has not passed Congress in a decade.  Today’s efforts to remove harmful regulations and modernize our energy system promise to go a long way. 

America’s capacity to be a global energy leader is not in question.  It is a matter of when our vast energy potential is unleashed.