by Richard McCarty
With the liberal media busy looking for excuses to attack President Trump and his administration, you might have missed some good news on the energy front. American energy jobs are being created, gas prices are dropping, energy imports are dropping and energy exports are rising.
Since Trump took office, there have been thousands of coal mining jobs created; and tens of thousands of oil and gas industry jobs have been created. Many of these jobs pay well.
Thanks to Trump, coal’s future is looking brighter. In the early months of the Trump Administration, the Interior Department ended the moratorium on new coal leases on public lands that the Obama Administration had put in place. In FY 2017, coal production on federal lands increased by more than 12 percent. While environmentalists work to shut down reliable coal plants reducing domestic needs for coal, coal exports increased by 61 percent last year as coal shipments to Europe rose and shipments to Asia more than doubled.
The domestic natural gas industry is growing rapidly. Last year, for the first time since the Eisenhower era, the U.S. has become a net exporter of natural gas. The U.S. is expected to end this year as the world’s fifth largest natural gas exporter; the U.S. should end next year as the third largest exporter. A large liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal opened this year in Maryland. Several more terminals are expected to open next year; and more than a dozen terminals have been proposed.
Our natural gas resources are providing needed energy to our allies, including Poland, Lithuania, Japan, and South Korea. Due to pressure from the Trump administration to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, we may be supplying gas to Germany in the near future as well.
The domestic oil industry has had a tremendous year this year. U.S. oil production just hit a new record high, 11.6 million barrels per day, and we are now the world’s largest oil producer. Next year, domestic oil production is expected to average over 12 million barrels per day, a huge increase from the 8.8 million barrels per day produced in 2016, according to the Energy Information Agency. Drilling on public lands is contributing to this growth: oil production on federal lands rose 7 percent during FY 2017 to the highest level in at least 10 years. After years of obstruction by Democrats, federal lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve are expected next year, which could further increase production numbers.
As a result of our increasing oil production, our oil imports are falling. For example, the month that Trump took office, net imports of crude oil and petroleum products exceeded 5.1 million barrels per day; in August (the most recent numbers available from the U.S. Energy Information Agency), net imports were less than 3.4 million barrels per day.
Due in part to the increased U.S. oil production, gas prices are dropping. In fact, the average price of gas in the U.S. has fallen more than 25 cents a gallon since last month, according to AAA. Impressively, these lower gas prices are in spite of Trump’s efforts to reduce Iranian oil sales, which have weakened the economy of the leading state sponsor of terrorism. How did Trump manage to cut Iranian oil sales and still allow gas prices to drop significantly? Among other things, he successfully pressured Saudi Arabia to produce more oil.
States and tribes are also seeing an increase in revenue from energy production. In fact, the Department of the Interior just reported that it distributed over $8.9 billion in revenue and royalties to states, tribes, and special funds (for conservation, reclamation, and historic preservation) in FY 2018 for energy produced on federally-managed lands and tribal lands. This distribution of revenue and royalties was 26 percent larger than the previous year’s distribution, and nearly three dozen states received these funds.
The President’s energy dominance policy is paying off hugely for workers, consumers, taxpayers, tribes, and even our allies. Senate Republicans must stand with the administration to make sure that the new liberal House majority does not succeed in undermining Trump’s energy policies.
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Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.