Seize The Energy Opportunity

Jeb Bush
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The discovery and production of massive deposits of gas and oil on American private land, even without a coherent White House energy strategy to develop domestic resources, has created two distinct opportunities for America.

First, we have reversed the steady decline in one of America’s bedrock industries — energy. This sector quickly has become America’s jobs engine. Energy production is creating new prosperity and, as a result, fresh tax revenues to offset declines elsewhere.

Second, we have the opportunity to create, at last, energy security for America’s future. This is significant. Right now, America sends $300 billion net a year overseas to pay for energy we need but don’t produce at home. The newly recoverable oil and natural gas deposits could cut that net $300 billion bill in half.

We could, as a nation, decide to adopt a North America-centric energy policy: Working with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors and investing in our continental production, we would be able to wean ourselves off Venezuelan, African and Middle Eastern oil in a few years.

This will have two immediate results: Our trade deficit will decline by more than a third. And look who will be losing out. Among the top global exporters of oil and natural gas are Russia, Iran and Venezuela — three countries that are either hostile or act against our interests routinely.

Not only that, but many other major oil and gas exporters are autocratic or unstable or both. Oil and gas resources in the hands of these national governments have given them the cash and power they need to repress democracy and democratic institutions.

Our dependence on foreign oil forces America to spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on military operations in nations that would otherwise hold no vital claim to our national interest. And our need to maintain access to supplies means we must suffer the threats and insults of these regimes.

America would never succumb to such threats over food or clean water. We would never permit policies that placed so much of our vital infrastructure — telecommunications, Internet and air travel — in the hands of some other nation, especially ones so far away and unfriendly to our interests.

If we move from importing 50 percent of our energy needs to 25 percent, and only from North America, not only will it have an effect of lowering our energy costs and improving our economy dramatically, but it will reshuffle American foreign policy toward favoring free nations and the expansion of liberty throughout the world.

We must seize the opportunity we have been given to reshape both our economy and the economic dynamics of global freedom. Simply by untethering ourselves from “despot oil,” we can force regimes that used oil wealth to prop themselves up to find a new source for national prosperity — the great power of human freedom and innovation.

We continue to be told that carbon is the energy source of the past. Energy-exploration companies that have produced so many high-paying jobs across America’s heartland have been degraded and demeaned and threatened with stifling regulation and taxation.

A few years of this approach have produced the results we see at the pump and across the globe. America is paying too much for gasoline and is paying an even greater price to secure the foreign supplies we need. The answer to both problems is at home, where our energy future lies waiting to be tapped.

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