Their view: Energy dominance can bolster our national security

Nicolas Loris - Guest Columnist | January 7th, 2018 4:26 pm

In one of the latest presidential tweets to make headlines, President Trump responded to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear button threat by saying he had an even bigger and more powerful one.

Whether you love or loathe the president’s tweets, one must look beyond the 280-character count to assess the administration’s foreign policies. A good place to start is the latest national security assessment. The report outlines the threats of North Korea, Russia and terrorist networks, but it also emphasizes the importance of a strong economy to enhance national security.

A critical component to economic growth and improving relationships with U.S. allies is the American energy sector.” America’s central position in the global energy system as a leading producer, consumer and innovator,” the report says, “ensures that markets are free and U.S. infrastructure is resilient and secure.”

Over the years, both Republicans and Democrats have championed the idea of increased energy security. Regrettably, a number of big-government policies have been implemented or proposed in the name of energy security that have cost taxpayers significantly, increased energy prices for households and businesses — all while doing very little improve energy security. These include energy subsidies, the renewable fuel standard, energy efficiency mandates that restrict consumer choice, Department of Defense biofuels and green energy mandates.

But there are free-market policies that would grow the economy and enhance energy security through competitive outcomes that produce increased supplies, more dependable energy and greater choices.

President Trump’s first national security strategy highlights five ways for the U.S. to improve its energy standing in the world: reduce barriers, promote exports, ensure security, attain universal access, and further our technological edge. Congress and the administration should use the five principles as a foundation to build on America’s energy dominance.

1.) Reduce barriers. In response to Trump’s executive order on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, and Department of Energy released reports documenting agency actions that burden the safe development of domestic energy sources.

In many respects, these documents provide a useful road map to rolling back costly, ineffective regulations and expanding opportunities for new resource development and energy infrastructure. Not only are these regulations costly, they have little to no direct environmental benefit.

2.) Promote exports. Providing more energy choices to both producers and consumers will generate jobs and grow the economy. Expediting the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports is a common-sense reform that would improve national security by increasing global energy supplies and reducing the ability of any one nation to use its control of energy resources to threaten U.S. interests.

Embracing energy dominance should include imports, whether imported oil, ethanol, or solar panels. Cheaper imports would make American businesses more competitive and successful.

3.) Ensure energy security. Many policies that harm families have been implemented in the name of improving energy security. Government planning, quotas, subsidies, tariffs and other market-distorting policies have promoted favoritism, not energy dominance.

Competition and diversification can improve energy security, and the Trump administration should reduce impediments that thwart the private sector’s ability to properly protect the electricity grid and energy infrastructure.

4.) Attain universal energy access. Energy touches every aspect of our lives, from providing a daily sense of comfort to powering the global economy. So having an energy platform that provides choices at competitive prices would only enhance the well-being of families and businesses nationwide.

Given America’s energy wealth, the U.S. should be a major supplier to meeting energy needs in the developing world, where more than 1.2 billion people lack access to reliable electricity.

5.) Further America’s technological edge. As demonstrated with smart drilling technologies, innovation unlocks new resources, supplies affordable power, and generates new employment opportunities. Government favoritism, however, invariably pumps the brakes on technological innovation.

When the government picks winners through the tax codes or bails out uneconomical power plants, companies focus more on obtaining the next handout and less on reducing costs to be competitive in a market without subsidies. A variety of energy sources and technologies provide Americans with dependable electricity and transportation fuels. Whether it is conventional fuels, nuclear power, renewable technologies, batteries, or a concept still developing in a lab, America’s entrepreneurial spirit will drive innovation forward without the help of Washington.

Thanks to the free market, the U.S. is already a global energy leader. These policy reforms will ensure that America stays there.

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Nicolas Loris

Guest Columnist

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