The U.S. shale bonanza has to lead to revamped energy policies, NGP Energy Capital Management’s chief told a Colorado industry audience this week.

NGP CEO Kenneth Hersh was a keynote speaker at the 27th Annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit in Denver this week. The annual event, which drew more than 1,200 registered participants, is sponsored by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

“We’re in a new day and we need to accept that,” Hersh told the industry audience. “The U.S. energy industry is living proof.”

The commodity markets today may be giving everyone heartburn but it’s about holding on for the longer term, he said. “The data is compelling and the forces of economic growth are compelling.”

Hersh should know of what he speaks. Irving, TX-based NGP, which he co-founded in 1988, uses private equity and direct investments to pump up prospects in the U.S. oil and gas industry through Natural Gas Partners, one of its three funding groups.

NGP investments include two startups this year, Luxe Energy LLC based in Austin, TX, and Kinetics Energy Services LLC (see Shale Daily, May 14;April 9). NGP lent its financial backing also to Bravo Natural Resources LLC and Memorial Resource Development Corp. (see Shale Daily, Sept. 24, 2014; June 9, 2014).

Bluestone Natural Resources, Parsley Energy, RSP Permian, Rice Energy Inc., Energy Transfer Partners LP, Ensco and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. also have been beneficiaries of NGP’s financial wherewithal.

A second group, NGP Energy Technology Partners, backs oilfield services, power, alternative energy and the energy efficiency sectors, with Cretic Energy Services LLC, an onshore-focused oilfield services firm, launched last year (see Shale Daily, June 12, 2014). The third fund, NGP Global Agribusiness Partners, invests in food and agriculture projects.

Hersh spent close to an hour discussing the U.S. energy surplus, urging the industry audience to push for regulatory changes that would allow expanded oil exporting. The Department of Energy has “relaxed” some restrictions to allow natural gas to be exported. Federal officials should do the same for crude oil, he said.

“We all grew up in a world where oil and gas was deemed to be scarce, where if you could find it, that was the premium,” he said. “Anywhere in globe that was a good thing because the world was short” energy. However, the world has changed dramatically and the United States is in a “permanent era of hydrocarbon and energy abundance.”

The United States has joined other global energy powers, which means it has to play a bigger role on the world stage.

“If you project the strong hand, amazing things can happen,” said Hersh.” He said the country should “lead the reform instead of leading from behind.”

The ban on U.S. crude oil exports implemented in 1975 is stuck in the past, and the rationale to protect supply doesn’t hold weight, he said.

Domestic policymakers appear “thoroughly confused” about how free markets operate, the NGP chief said. They seem unsure of “whether to embrace or hate this oil and gas revolution. Our policymakers and producers have been ‘frenemies’ for so long. We know U.S. economic growth over the last 150 years would not have been possible without cheap, plentiful energy, and now we have even more…We don’t know whether to love it or hate it.”

Thirty-two states now produce oil and gas, and the monetary benefits flowing to them are evident, he noted.

“Bashing Big Oil was always easy,” but learning to appreciate the benefits that energy abundance is providing is proving difficult among some quarters. “Can they really embrace an industry they were taught to bash?” he asked about the critics.