The incoming Biden administration, among other imminent challenges, will have to stand firm against growing hostility from China, Russia, Iran, and other international adversaries. A recent op-ed by retired U.S. Army Major General James Marks, featured in Real Clear Energy, makes the case that American fossil fuels and the energy independence they confer are crucial to doing so.
Despite arguments to the contrary, petroleum is a versatile and affordable energy source for which there is currently no substitute. Besides fueling the US economy and supporting nearly 10 million American jobs, it is critical to our military strength, as fuel for our battleships and planes and as a major ingredient in modern defense technologies. Limiting domestic energy production, as the Biden administration has indicated a willingness to do, would force the US military to depend on its main geopolitical opponents for oil, sending them millions of jobs, billions of dollars, and crippling our ability to act against them militarily. Our allies would also suffer. Marks argues that growing US energy exports have:
“…provided [them] the room to refocus military capabilities away from oil fields in the Middle East to the growing omnipresence of China’s influence … [and] weakened the grip of oil-rich tormentors like Russia.”
One day, renewable energy technologies might be sufficiently robust to replace fossil fuels in some of their major applications. Until that time, it is crucial that American energy independence is protected through the continued development of the domestic oil and natural gas industry. Rather than conceding to progressive demands, President-elect Biden should instead follow the example of his democratic predecessor, whose administration oversaw a 35% increase in domestic natural gas production and an 80% increase in crude oil production. In a time of intense political polarization, energy security should be seized as an opportunity for bipartisan consensus. Marks concludes that:
“To walk back the hard-won progress of the past decade would undermine our interests, at home and abroad, and leave our nation vulnerable.”