In The News

American Energy Impacts Global Stability


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Washington D.C., April 16, 2014 | comments
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Control a nation's energy, and you control the nation.

Vladimir Putin is controlling former Soviet satellite states by controlling their energy supplies. Russian energy influence extends from the Baltics, to Ukraine, to the south Caucuses and central Asia.

The American Energy Renaissance Act, legislation I introduced with Sen. Ted Cruz, will provide a real "reset" of U.S. foreign policy by increasing domestic energy security while utilizing American resources to provide energy freedom and independence to eastern Europe and Russia's neighbors.

The Cruz-Bridenstine plan for a rebirth of free markets in the energy industry could have a far-reaching impact, much like the Renaissance in 15th century Europe. Newer energy technologies, such as horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and drilling in frontier areas, will power this renaissance just as the printing press powered the European Renaissance centuries ago.

The American Energy Renaissance Act plan will also empower the private sector to create good-paying American jobs and spur economic growth by harnessing our nation's energy resources and removing federal impediments to energy exploration, development, and trade. Not only does energy security unshackle us from less-than-friendly Middle Eastern producers, but it also better positions us to counter threats of aggression toward our allies.

Currently, Europe is dependent on Russian oil and gas. The European Union is the world's largest energy importer. BP estimates that Russia supplies one-third of Europe's natural gas and one-quarter of its oil and coal. Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic states get nearly 100 percent of their natural gas from Russia. Seven other EU countries rely on Russia for at least 50 percent of their gas.

The good news is that Europe and Russia remain in a situation of "dual dependence." Russia needs European customers as much as Europe needs Russia's energy. In 2012, more than 80 percent of Russia's exported gas went to the EU or to former Soviet satellite countries according to the Congressional Research Service. Only 7 percent of Russia gas exports went to Asia. Energy exploitation and pipeline domination drive Russia's economy and feather the nests of Putin and his kleptocrat Kremlin cronies. Putin has confirmed that more than 50 percent of his government's revenue comes from oil and gas.

We can simultaneously spur American economic growth and deny Putin the revenue he needs to threaten his neighbors. The American Energy Renaissance Act will help the U.S. supply European markets by expanding expedited approval to all liquefied natural gas export permit applications, repealing antiquated prohibitions on crude oil exports, and shortening the environmental review process for coal exports.

Energy security for Russia's neighbors is not exclusively dependent on the U.S. Azerbaijan, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, wedged between Russia and Iran, has shown how the private sector can contribute to energy security. Azerbaijan ranks 21st in the world in proven oil reserves and 26th in gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Rather than opt for centralized, state-controlled energy development, Azerbaijan became the first country to open the Caspian to U.S. and Western energy companies, which are now major partners in Caspian resource exploration and production and also development of an expanding pipeline network.

To highlight the importance of energy stability for global stability, I am hosting the ambassador from Azerbaijan at a public town hall 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa's Perkins Auditorium, 41st and Yale.

The U.S. is the world's largest natural gas producer and third largest ? and fastest growing ? crude oil producer. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that U.S. natural gas production will grow 50 percent by 2040. The United States is poised to develop and export energy to the advantage of the American economy and permanently reduce Russia's control over European energy markets. The U.S. private sector energy industry, combined with the efforts of regional partners such as Azerbaijan, will have an impact on energy security and global stability, particularly in the former Soviet satellite states.

I encourage you to attend my energy security town hall with Ambassador Elin Suleymanov.

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