Stars and Stripes recently published an op-ed from Major General James A. “Spider” Marks (US Army, retired) in which he calls for the need to strengthen our domestic energy capabilities to strengthen American national security and energy security interests, pointing to the recent six-day blockage of the Suez Canal. The blockage caused severe delays for critical oil and gas shipments, as the Canal is a critical waterway for international trade.
Marks notes how this type of blockage could be dangerous for the U.S. if leadership chose to increase reliance on foreign energy sources:
“Around 8% of global liquefied natural gas trade and 10% of seaborne oil trade pass through the Suez Canal every day. With energy prices already elevated before the blockage, any delay lasting more than a week could have resulted in soaring costs and acute shortages. A similar disruption in the future, whether accidental or intentional, could precipitate international economic crises and leave millions out of power. Although the United States’ energy reserves and domestic production capabilities would have enabled it to endure a lengthier blockage, current efforts to forcibly shift the United States away from traditional fuel sources will leave it more exposed to future disruptions. The Ever Given fiasco demonstrates why such an approach is fundamentally irresponsible.”
Natural gas, an abundant resource in the U.S., is critical to powering American homes and businesses with affordable and reliable energy. Marks notes that the U.S. natural gas and oil industry generates nearly 8% of the nation’s GDP – and pipeline projects like Dakota Access, Line 3, and Line 5 are crucial to safely transporting our nation’s prosperous energy production transnationally.
Marks also highlights the geopolitical role U.S. energy independence plays, writing:
“By helping allies and strategic partners to meet their energy needs, the U.S. can extend its economic and political influence while limiting that of China, Russia and Iran. Unless the United States develops its export capacity to the point of becoming a viable alternative, many European countries in particular will be forced to import Russian gas to the detriment of their security and ours — which is Russia’s plan exactly … to wedge itself in the NATO alliance and European Union partnership.”
As the Biden administration considers new policies to limit American energy potential, it is important to look at this incident and ponder the outcome had the U.S. not been in the energy-hegemon position it currently is. U.S. leadership should continue to prioritize domestic energy production to protect national security interests and strengthen the national economy.