The reversal of fortune in U.S. natural gas and oil reserves has improved energy security and given the country more leverage around the world, President Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said last week.
In a wide-ranging speech at Columbia University in New York City on Wednesday to launch the Center on Global Energy Policy, Donilon said rarely a day goes by when energy-related matters are not on his agenda. The “energy boom” has not gone unnoticed.
“The new U.S. energy posture and outlook will directly strengthen the nation’s economy,” he said. “There are not a lot of iron laws of history. But one is that, as the President has said, a country’s political and military primacy depends on its economic vitality.”
For instance, developing “a more global natural gas market benefits the U.S. and our allies. We have a strong interest in a world natural gas market that is well supplied, diverse, and efficiently priced. Increased U.S. and global natural gas production can enhance diversity of supply, help delink gas prices from expensive oil-indexed contracts, weaken control by traditional dominant natural gas suppliers and encourage fuel switching from oil and coal to natural gas.”
Growth in oil reserves also is improving trade opportunities, he said.
“For the first time in over sixty years, the United States is exporting more refined petroleum than it is importing. The reduction in energy imports has a positive impact on our trade balance, helps lower domestic and global energy prices and allows a greater share of the money Americans spend on energy to remain within the U.S. economy.”
Two viewpoints have been tossed about regarding the domestic energy surplus. One argues that with more resources, more worldwide opportunities exist to trade. The other argues that the United States must guard its well-stocked energy arsenal and retreat from diplomacy with other countries, including the oil-rich Middle East. The Obama administration favors more trade, said Donilon.
The surge in domestic production “does not in any way imply that the U.S. should retreat from the world,” he said.
The United States was considered an “energy poor nation” beginning in the 1970s, a “mindset held for nearly forty years,” noted the NSC adviser. With more than enough resources to supply consumers for as long as a century, it’s no time to retreat.
“Reduced energy imports do not mean the United States can or should disengage from the Middle East or the world. Global energy markets are part of a deeply interdependent world economy,” and the United States “continues to have an enduring interest in stable supplies of energy and the free flow of commerce everywhere.”
Domestic growth improves the U.S. standing in the world and “sends a powerful message that the United States has the resources, as well as the resolve, to remain the world’s preeminent power for years to come.”
The new energy posture also “allows us to engage from a position of greater strength,” said Donilon. “Increasing U.S. energy supplies act as a cushion that helps reduce our vulnerability to global supply disruptions and price shocks. It also affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.”
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