The role of energy security in foreign policy is on display for all to see in Europe’s handling of the situation between Russia and Ukraine. If European countries were not getting 30 percent of their gas from Russia, would they be taking a harder line on Russia’s incursion into Crimea? Would there be strong economic sanctions against Russia if European countries didn’t fear they’d lose a much-needed energy source of their struggling economies? Without its abundant natural gas to export, Russia’s economy would collapse. More importantly, Russia wouldn’t be capable of using energy as a political weapon to advance its geopolitical ambitions.
America has come a long way in the last decade toward energy security, thanks to better technology and processes like hydraulic fracturing, tax structures in states like Oklahoma that promote capital investment in drilling and projects like the Keystone pipeline. These factors have contributed to an increase in production that’s keeping energy prices low for American consumers and businesses when compared to Europe, where such costs are four times greater.As a result of the lower prices, we are seeing a boom in manufacturing in this country and Oklahoma, in particular. The number of manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma is up 11 percent since 2009, in part because paying less for energy means more money can be put into expanding production and adding high-paying jobs. Our relatively low energy costs result in a tremendous competitive advantage in producing American-made goods.
It’s clear that having an energy policy that encourages domestic production leads to an economy that can better weather bad times and expand more quickly in good times. It creates well-paying jobs not only in the energy sector, but also in manufacturing, which grows faster with low energy prices. America’s energy independence enhances our economic power and prevents U.S. national security interests from being compromised by economic blackmail like Europe.
The State Chamber supports the all-of-the-above energy policy outlined by Gov. Mary Fallin. So whether it’s sending a letter to the federal government asking for an expedited permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline or asking for a stable tax structure that supports capital investment in drilling and good jobs in Oklahoma, the State Chamber has and will continue to promote energy security.
Fred Morgan is president and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma.