- - Sunday, July 3, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised to make America energy independent, but we still import 9 million barrels of oil a day with much of it coming from the Middle East and OPEC. Now for the first time in a half century — thanks to the shale oil and gas revolution — the dream of American energy independence is not just a pipe dream but easily achievable if the next president takes the right steps to make it happen.

This Made in America energy strategy means we could stop draining our economy of about $200 billion a year that could be used to rebuild our own country. This isn’t just about the economy. We know from intelligence reports that as much as $500 million a year of petrodollars find their way into the coffers of terrorist networks like ISIS.

To achieve American energy self-sufficiency I’m not talking about the left’s strange infatuation with building more windmills (sorry Hillary). We only get about 5 percent of our energy from windmills and solar panels.

What I am talking about is about taking the strategic steps necessary to make the United States the energy dominant force on the planet within five to 10 years by using our superabundance of fossil fuel resources. Thanks to the amazing made-in-America technological breakthroughs of the last decade — including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to get at shale oil and gas reserves — the United States now has at least 150 years of oil and natural gas resources on top of 500 years of coal. See chart.

Consider what has happened in less than a decade with oil production. In 2008 the United States produced about 5 million barrels a day. We hit 8.7 million in 2014[and could double that by 2025.

As we tap into the full potential of our tens of billions of shale oil and gas we can become the number one export nation on the planet. This could easily mean more than $1 trillion a year in oil, gas and also coal exports each year — perhaps exceeding 5 percent of GDP. This would mean as many as 6 million new jobs, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

Let’s not forget about coal. America was built on coal, and our nation has far more of it than any other nation. And we burn it cleanly and efficiently, unlike the Chinese and India who build hundreds of coal plants every year, but spew out dirty emissions.

I estimate that with five simple steps taken by the next president, America will gain its energy independence:

1. Allow drilling and mining permits on federal lands. So far at least 90 percent of the shale gas and shale oil revolution has happened on private land. But around half of all the land west of the Mississippi is government owned. We estimate there are $50 trillion of energy resources stored underneath nonenvironmentally sensitive federal lands. This is the biggest treasure chest in the world.

2) Build a national network of pipelines across the country by allowing the permitting for projects like Keystone XL and many others. Right now the federal government is holding up as many as a dozen necessary pipelines to get the oil and gas across the country and then shipped across the world.

3) Build refineries and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the United States. The Energy Information Agency says the latest refiner “began operating in 1977” — or almost 40 years ago even though the U.S. population has nearly doubled since the mid 1970s and our energy production has doubled as well.

4) Stop the Obama war on coal. The environmentalists have tried to shutdown coal production, the next president should revive it. This means putting a muzzle on the EPA to allow our energy resources to be harnessed and used in an environmentally responsible way. Environmental rules have to be shown to be cost-effective, meaning that the cost to the economy of complying with the rules is justified on the basis of the environmental benefits — and measured honestly.

5) End all subsidies for all forms of energy. The left complains about taxpayer subsidies for oil and gas. The best way to promote efficient energy is to let the free market work and remove government handouts — particularly to the green energy sector.

If we get this right, America can declare its independence from OPEC and middle eastern oil. We can become the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century.

• Stephen Moore is an economist with Freedom Works and coauthor of “Fueling Freedom: Ending the Mad War on Energy, (Regnery, 2016).

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