With the upheaval in Russia and Iran, the world faces unprecedented threats to energy security. Geopolitical turmoil aside, U.S. energy companies face severe delays in constructing facilities and pipelines. These delays directly impede American national security and energy security domestically and for our allies abroad.Given the severe security challenges posed by China and Russia, the energy security of our allies is directly related to America’s ability to produce, move, and export more American energy. America needs more projects built, and existing and new projects need to be expedited. Conditions prompting this urgency seem apparent. In 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Europe was forced to reacquaint itself with lessons it should have learned decades ago. History has been forgotten as EU policymakers have directly or indirectly enabled national security risks of relying on energy from an unreliable source. The lessons from the past century were painful. Issues with energy prices kicked off years of high interest rates, high unemployment, high inflation, and economic stagnation for Americans. To amass energy supplies, Washington looked abroad and in the process stifled innovation and developments in the U.S. But along came the successive waves of innovation triggered by the American Energy Revolution in the early 2000s. Advancements in oil and gas operations (through horizontal drilling) brought the U.S. from a place of energy scarcity to energy abundance, providing low and stable energy prices domestically and driving gains in overall GDP. The U.S. has become an energy superpower, doubling crude oil output to more than 12 million barrels daily— passing Russia as the world’s largest producer. America has dramatically reduced its reliance on foreign oil, and today, approximately 70 percent of the crude oil processed in our Gulf Coast refineries comes from America. These numbers are a far cry from the challenges of the past. Last year, the U.S. – the top natural gas producer – became the world’s largest natural gas exporter. Since lifting the natural gas export ban in 2015, exports have continued to increase, while prices in the U.S. have, for the most part, stayed low and stable. America’s LNG industry has come to symbolize this tectonic shift in the global energy landscape. Facilities initially built to receive foreign LNG have reversed their operations to send our abundance to markets abroad. American producers supplied half of Europe’s LNG last year to help alleviate the cut-off of Russian natural gas. For energy policy makers here and around the globe, 2022 was a loud, unavoidable wake-up call. The recent approval of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to reform the federal energy permitting process offers hope that Washington policymakers can set aside party divisions to make wise and enduring policies. The House first approved these reforms as part of a bipartisan standalone energy bill in late March and again a few weeks ago as critical provisions of a broader package of debt and spending reforms. Every day, Congress has more compelling reasons to modernize the federal permitting process. Domestic inflation is persistent, regulatory restrictions from the federal government to discourage oil and gas investing are piling up, and military hotspots in Europe, Asia, and Africa show no indication of cooling off anytime soon. Modernizing federal rules and requirements to obtain environmental or other construction permits means quicker approvals, increased production, and higher confidence levels among financial backers.
America has excellent untapped energy potential, and we should utilize it now to bolster global energy security. We can realize that potential by enacting policies, like permitting reform, that will recognize oil and gas production as part of America’s long-term energy strategy. Swift project approval will encourage investment and invigorate the U.S. production needed to ensure global security.