The United States recently surpassed Russia to become the world’s top oil producer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
That milestone isn’t just an economic success story — it’s a foreign-policy victory as well. America’s growing energy dominance is already strengthening our hand in negotiations with unfriendly regimes.
Safeguarding this geopolitical advantage will require reforms that bolster our energy industry and keep oil and natural gas production booming well into the future.
The advent of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and horizontal drilling has unlocked previously untapped oil and natural gas resources from shale rock formations across the country. This technological revolution has made America a global leader in energy production.
In fact, the Energy Information Administration credits fracking for America’s title as top global oil producer: “U.S. crude oil production has increased significantly during the past 10 years, driven mainly by production from tight oil formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”
In January, the United States produced 11.7 million barrels of crude per day — up from 5 million barrels a decade earlier. Additionally, our nation currently produces more natural gas than any other country.
We are now a net exporter of natural gas, which has caused a surge in America’s energy exports. In late November, America exported more crude and refined oil than it imported for the first time since 1973.
These trends represent a huge win for American workers. Fracking alone has created 1.7 million jobs and is expected to create 3.5 million more by 2035.
This newfound energy dominance has also reshaped global politics to America’s advantage. A world full of eager customers is turning to the United States to meet its energy needs. European nations are increasingly buying U.S. liquefied natural gas, helping them reduce their energy reliance on Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
At the same time, the global influence of less stable energy-producing countries, such as Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela, is on the wane.
A glut of domestic energy resources has also left the U.S. government better equipped to impose effective sanctions against countries like Russia and Iran. No longer does punishing these oil-rich nations — whether for supporting terrorism, meddling in elections, or abridging human rights — come with severe political and economic risks.
This significant global influence can’t be taken for granted. It’s up to our leaders in Washington to enact policies that keep America’s energy industry strong. President Trump has already done important work with policies to do just that.
For instance, his 2017 tax overhaul contains new incentives to invest in pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure projects. Earlier in his administration, he also approved the stalled Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines and reduced many regulatory impediments to energy production.
Such reforms should remain a priority in the months and years to come. As long as political leaders lend a helping hand, America’s ability to export energy around the world will only grow — as will our influence.