By Todd Staples, President, Texas Oil & Gas Association
In the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, last week the U.S. Secretary of Energy called upon American energy producers to increase output “to stabilize the market and minimize harm to American families.” This comes after more than a year of this Administration taking deliberate steps to discourage, and in some cases halt, oil and natural gas production in our country, in addition to calling for an end to drilling during the 2020 campaign. American consumers are suffering with skyrocketing prices and feeling the repercussions of cancelled pipeline projects, halted leases on federal lands, delayed approvals for permits and the discouragement of additional expansion – poor, short-sighted decisions that are exacerbated by the war.
This crisis should be a wakeup call that we need strategic, collaborative American energy policy that treats oil and natural gas as an asset and not a liability. Just months ago, the Administration’s pleas to foreign countries to increase their production, while undercutting local jobs and local investment, had a chilling effect on domestic energy development. Efforts to shame lenders for providing capital to oil and natural gas companies further slowed energy production and essential infrastructure development.
Expanding oil and natural gas production and transportation requires foresight, planning and investment that are rooted in certainty. Securing permits and permission to access rights of way can take years – longer still with an Administration intent on obstructing development. The oil and natural gas industry shares the commitment to meet our nation and allies’ energy needs and is operating as quickly as possible given the consequences of policy decisions designed to slow things down.
The conflict in Ukraine painfully demonstrates that national security and energy security are inextricably linked. The United States plays an important role in contributing to stability by providing reliable energy at home and abroad. Texas is the nation’s leader in oil and natural gas production, responsible for 43% of total U.S. oil production and 26% of total U.S. natural gas production in 2021. If Texas were its own country, it would be the third largest natural gas producer in the world, behind only the United States and Russia.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. met more than a quarter of European demand last year for liquified natural gas (LNG), with the majority of those exports originating from the U.S. Gulf Coast. Annually, Texas exports approximately 4 billion cubic feet a day of LNG. For perspective, that’s enough natural gas to meet the needs of 22 million households every day. And our national export capacity is on track to be the world’s largest by end of 2022, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). Without LNG shipped from the Gulf Coast, Europe would be suffering from an energy crisis even more than they are today.
Clearly, we have the resources and a globally unmatched commitment to the environment to responsibly meet the energy needs of our nation and our allies. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as reported recently by the Houston Chronicle, CO2 emissions in the U.S. decreased over 8% from 2010-2019 while they rose in China and Russia by over 25% and 21% during the same period. We must reestablish a focus on American energy security and recognize that no one produces the oil and natural gas the world needs in a more environmentally responsible way than American producers.
Texas and America are poised to lead if federal policymakers embrace forward-thinking, collaborative policies that harness the natural resources, technology and innovation that have made this nation the global front-runner in energy and environmental progress. We need a strategic American energy policy, not a game of whack-a-mole.
Todd Staples is president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner.