Economy & Business

Making the Domestic Energy Boom Work for America and Its Allies

(David McNew/Getty)

The energy revolution can be harnessed not only to fuel dramatic economic growth, but also as a powerful geostrategic force multiplier to strengthen our own national security. The advantage of seizing this opportunity can be seen most clearly with respect to Russia.

One predictable consequence of President Obama’s abdication of American leadership is that Russian president Vladimir Putin has become increasingly aggressive in undermining U.S. interests.

In the wake of Obama’s disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran, Putin has moved quickly to expand Russia’s influence in the Middle East. In concert with Iran, he has deployed military forces to prop up an Assad regime whose brutal war against the Syrian people has left more than 250,000 dead, generated a massive refugee crisis, and fueled the rise of ISIS.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and threats to our Baltic allies not only threaten the NATO alliance’s cohesion and the stability of Europe but also erode fundamental principles of the international system.

Putin is a bully who has exploited Europe’s dependence on Russian energy for too long. Although a more comprehensive international strategy will be necessary to respond broadly to Putin’s aggression, we can start helping ourselves and our allies by putting more American energy on the global market.

#share#We need to lift the ban on U.S. oil exports and make it easier to export natural gas.

We are at a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Through a combination of two American inventions, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of natural gas and crude oil combined.

The unexpected growth of energy production has been an economic boon across the country. Families have saved, on average, about $1,000 a year because of lower energy prices. Many households have saved twice that much.

The abundance of American-made energy has also strengthened businesses, touching off a nationwide manufacturing renaissance. In the next 15 years, we could add 900,000 new manufacturing jobs.

Lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports and making it easier to export American natural gas would strengthen our economy and our national security.

And yet, the federal government under President Obama seems to be apathetic, or even hostile, to America’s new status as an energy superpower. The Obama administration is stuck on the policies of the past, wedded to an energy scarcity that ties our hands. In the last five years, natural-gas production has increased by over 30 percent on private- and state-owned land, while it decreased by about 30 percent on federal land. And the Obama administration’s new anti-fracking regulations could further depress production.

Nothing shows the Obama administration’s energy antipathy more starkly than the president’s politically motivated veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would help domestic and Canadian oil get to market, solidify the U.S.–Canadian partnership, and support 42,000 American jobs while it was under construction. Hillary Clinton shares the anti-energy mindset of Barack Obama. She opposes the Keystone Pipeline and is calling for more regulations from Washington, which could squander the benefits of the energy revolution.

We should be doing everything we can to responsibly maximize the newly found supplies of American energy. Incredibly, the Obama administration still prohibits the export of crude oil despite multiple analyses showing that such exports would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and drive down gas prices even further.

#related#National-security experts across the political spectrum share my belief that lifting the crude-oil ban would better leverage U.S. interests abroad and reduce Russia’s influence on Europe. This policy would be far more effective than the failed Russian-reset strategy pursued by Secretary Clinton or the equally naïve thinking embodied by Obama’s current Russia policy.

President Obama has the discretion to start allowing the export of crude oil today. Why is he willing to lift sanctions and let Iran, the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, resume oil exports, while denying the same opportunity to American producers?

We need to get Washington out of the way and allow America to assert its energy prowess in the world. The right national energy strategy will enhance our foreign policy by strengthening our allies in Europe at the expense of regimes like Putin’s, which cynically use energy as a weapon.

Lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports and making it easier to export American natural gas would strengthen our economy and our national security. If President Obama won’t do this, I will.

— Jeb Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

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