American Energy Security needs Commitments from D.C.

Major General James ‘Spider’ Marks (ret.), and GAIN Strategic Advisor, authored an op-ed for The Defense Post urging Washington to heed the warning signs illustrated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and establish forward-looking energy policies that can insulate Americans from future volatile price swings. While the war has upended the global supply of oil and natural gas, it has also provided an opportunity for the U.S. to be a “stabilizing force in the global energy market,” Marks writes. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has not capitalized on this reality and instead has dragged its feet on the advancement of domestic oil and gas development.

Putin has shown that depending on foreign actors for energy supply is a misguided national security policy that can have detrimental effects. Unfortunately, many of our European allies relied upon Russia for their energy needs, and the invasion “exposed serious supply vulnerabilities,” Marks says. Putin has been able to wield energy as a weapon, as Russia spent decades building pipelines and infrastructure to connect Europe—and even the U.S.—to Russian resources. 

In order to avoid further volatile prices, the Biden Administration and lawmakers in Washington must embrace policies that “foster greater investment in US oil and gas development,” writes Marks. Encouraging more investment in those domestic sectors will also strengthen our national security, as to avoid a future scenario similar to what Russia has so aptly demonstrated. However, instead of this investment, the Biden Administration halted off-shore oil lease sales, only reinstating a few once it was required by the legislation in the ‘Inflation Reduction Act.’

In addition to investments in production, domestic infrastructure projects must also be supported. A prime example of this is the Dakota Access Pipeline, a key component in our energy security arsenal that safely transports nearly 600,000 barrels of oil a day. The U.S. needs a robust pipeline infrastructure network to get energy from where it is produced to where it can be utilized, and meet demand. 

Marks argues the administration should support American energy production by removing the restraints that hamstring it, encouraging more investment, and avoiding legislative policies that hurt companies’ ability to make capital investments. In addition to arguing for sound federal policies, he warns some proposals in Washington, such as a windfall profits tax, would harm, not help, the existing energy crisis.  He notes such a policy,“could actually lower domestic production,” just as a similar measure did in the 1980s.

Putin has forced an energy reckoning. It’s time the U.S. seize the opportunity, and commit to long-term energy solutions. Marks concludes his piece by writing “President Biden should put the administration’s support behind US energy companies and their workers in order to bring affordable and reliable energy to Americans across the country,” Let’s hope federal policymakers listen accordingly.