by Chris White
The United States notched the country’s first month of exporting more petroleum products than it imported, according to newly released federal data. The news comes as Democratic presidential candidates campaign on nixing fossil fuels.
The U.S. exported roughly 89,000 barrels of fossil fuels per day during September, according to data the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released Nov. 29. That’s the first full month the U.S. has exported more than it imported since the U.S. began tracking such data in 1949.
A decade-long increase in fracked gas production is fueling the numbers. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, among others, spent years promising to make the U.S. energy independent. Presidential candidates from both parties made similar pitches throughout the years.
“This is a very big deal, not just rich in symbolism but marking a major and tangible benefit to the U.S. economy,” Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit, told reporters Tuesday. He authored a book “The Prize” in 2008 that fleshed out how big oil became a dominant form of energy.
He added: “It’s the end of an era that began with the oil crises of the 1970s.” Yergin was referring to the decade when Middle Eastern countries and giant oil cartels used their oil reserves as a weapon against Western nations.
President Donald Trump often touts his administration’s role in laying the groundwork for making the U.S. energy dominant, but the truth is more complicated. The recent uptick in exports came as fracking of shale deposits stretching from Texas to New Mexico exploded over the last decade.
“Shale completely turned it around,” Yergin said. “The world has never seen growth at this scale this fast. It’s almost as though, in number of barrels, that the United States added a second Saudi Arabia within its own borders.” Obama can also claim some responsibility for the export uptick as well.
The former president signed legislation in late 2015 ending the decades-old ban on crude oil exports. U.S. oil production doubled between 2009, when Obama took office, to 2016, while natural gas production shot up 50 percent in that time. The boom took place on state and private lands.
Imports from OPEC fell to 1.5 million barrels per day in March, which is the lowest level since March 1986, the EIA reported in June. EIA said at the time that OPEC imports fell “as domestic crude oil production has increased.”
The U.S. became the world’s largest producer of fracked natural gas in 2012, surpassing Russia. Natural gas also passed coal as the country’s leading source of electricity in July 2017.
Meanwhile, many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning on bludgeoning the oil industry.
The Massachusetts Democrat pegged her 2020 presidential campaign on holding oil companies responsible for supposedly contributing to global warming. Warren has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on her campaign’s anti-oil positions.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is also campaigning against the oil industry. “What we have to do is tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet,” he said during the fifth Democratic debate.
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Chris White is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.