Stop Surrendering Hard-Won Energy Security to Russia, OPEC

Sun, August 15, 2021

The energy industry in the United States is a powerhouse, and it has long been led by the innovators here in Texas. But recent actions and dysfunction in Washington seem almost designed to undermine that status and make us further reliant on foreign imports.

We all remember the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year, which would have fortified North American energy security by strengthening our relationship with Canada and providing a more secure supply of heavy oil to Texas refineries.

The Biden administration also imposed a ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, an action that a federal judge ruled illegal in June. The administration bizarrely claims to be complying with that court decision even though the illegal leasing ban remains in place.

Markets are complex, and there are many different grades of crude oil that are processed by different facilities. But it’s hard not to view these restrictions on North American energy alongside recent news that the U.S. is becoming more reliant on oil imports from Russia.

While we’re importing more barrels of oil from Russia, the White House also gave Vladimir Putin another win by dropping U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. We can’t build a pipeline to strengthen our relationship with Canada, but Russia gets the U.S. blessing to tighten its grip on the European natural gas market?

To add insult to injury, the Biden administration this week begged OPEC to increase oil production to presumably help U.S. consumers facing higher prices at the pump. After seven months of new executive orders and policy changes that have catered almost exclusively to environmentalists – even at the expense of union workers in some cases – the Biden administration is apparently only now recognizing that high energy prices hurt American families.

Now we have the $3.5 trillion spending plan that our lawmakers in Washington are considering, which contains a raft of policies that will penalize Texas oil and gas even further. “Without question, the Green New Deal is in the DNA of this green budget resolution,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the architects of the $93 trillion Green New Deal. “All of the things that are in, we talked about in the Green New Deal.”

I have to ask, have we lost our minds?

Oil and gas are responsible for nearly 350,000 Texas jobs, while supporting millions of additional indirect and spinoff jobs. The average annual salary for a Texan in oil and gas is almost $130,000. The industry pumps billions of dollars into our schools, infrastructure and other public services every year.

Every pipeline we cancel here in the United States is another opportunity taken away from working families who need to put food on the table. Every time our leaders in Washington endorse oil and gas projects overseas instead of expanding our domestic industry, it’s only encouraging our businesses to relocate where they actually can produce energy. Every barrel that we beg OPEC to produce is a barrel we could have gotten from here in North America.

Nearly 20 years ago, experts warned that the United States was running out of natural gas and would need to invest billions of dollars on new import infrastructure while chemical manufacturers relocated overseas. Oil prices were also on the rise, and we were increasingly at the whim of foreign countries.

Texas innovators stepped up to meet the challenge and helped usher in the shale revolution. Within a few years, the United States had become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. We’re not building gas import infrastructure, but rather a number of multibillion-dollar natural gas export facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Texas ports like Corpus Christi and Houston are booming with increased exports of Texas energy, helping developing countries lift their citizens out of poverty. Instead of sending our dollars overseas for oil and gas, our trading partners are lining up to buy our abundant supplies.

Texas innovation has also enabled our country to break oil and gas production records while significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions intensity. A report from Texans For Natural Gas found that from 2011-2019, methane emissions intensity fell 77 percent in the Lone Star State’s Permian Basin, while production increased by more than 300 percent. In fact, if the Permian Basin – one of the most prolific production basins in the world - were its own country, it would rank far below other major oil producers such as Algeria, Russia and Iran, even as oil and gas operators in the Permian reported record production.

Texas has shown that if there’s any energy crisis, we’ll step up and lead our country out of it. We should be strengthening our status as an energy powerhouse, not trying to surrender it to Russia and OPEC.

This op-ed was originally published by the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Author Ed Longanecker is president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association.