production is expanding rapidly, oil is once again over $100 per
barrel, largely due to political unrest in the Middle East.
The mere threat of a disruption in oil shipments is enough to increase
prices. Just imagine what a full-on blockade in, say, the Suez Canal
or the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline would do to the U.S. energy market.
With the Syrian conflict spilling over into neighboring countries, and
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members
aligning on different sides in the struggle, the situation is ripe for
a surge in prices. If Israel and Iran heat up, we could see oil prices
soaring to $150.
America is not yet energy independent. But despite the recent spike in
oil prices, our long-term energy outlook is bright. The ongoing
domestic oil boom has given us the means and opportunity to break free
from the tyranny of oil imports from hostile nations — but only if the
United States does all it can to increase and encourage domestic
The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude — the benchmark for
domestic oil prices — has been increasing. That’s good news for the
futures market, and suggests the WTI is back as the world’s leading
And that’s just the start of America’s sunny energy outlook. The U.S.
government recently doubled its estimates of recoverable energy in
North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks shale formations, to 7.4 billion
barrels of oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. And,
according to the IEA, America is on track to surpass Saudi Arabia in
oil output by 2017.
At the same time, OPEC is steadily losing relevance. OPEC — a cartel
including several member nations with alarming amounts of Islamist
violence — recently announced it expects demand for its oil to drop by
300,000 barrels a day next year, and projections for future demand for
OPEC oil are flattening even as OPEC members compete more fiercely
with each other for market share.
For far too long, America’s economy has been at the mercy of the
politically unstable and anti-American Middle East. Now, the tides are
shifting. Oil production from non-OPEC countries is expected to rise
next year by 1.2 million barrels a day. And most of that new
production is coming from the United States and Canada.
What’s more, Saudi Arabia’s and other oil infrastructure in the Middle
East has been increasingly under attack by terrorists who are seeking
to disrupt global markets by blocking oil production and
transportation. Vast networks of pipelines are unprotected and
vulnerable, and the terrorists know it.
However, our lawmakers can’t afford to take the trend toward true
energy independence for granted. The only real threat to American
energy security is, well, America. Politics could compromise this
country’s energy boom.
Take the regulatory restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, popularly
known as “fracking.” The recent oil and gas boom is the result of
advances in this technology, in tandem with advances in horizontal
drilling. In fracking, a solution that is 99.5 percent sand and water,
plus a few trace chemicals, is pumped underground at high pressure to
break up rock formations.
Despite the fact that over a million wells have been fracked in
America with an unparalleled safety record, radical environmentalists
have been trying to sway public opinion against fracking. They’re
deploying easily debunked propaganda. There’s simply no real evidence
that fracking pollutes groundwater, causes earthquakes or is
responsible for any of the other outrageous claims being made against
The White House has also repeatedly denied approval for the
construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil
from Canada and North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf Coast. This
project has been thoroughly reviewed and found environmentally sound.
And its construction would create an estimated 42,000 jobs.
The White House has also been rebuked by federal courts for blocking
drilling in parts of the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, Alaska and
Florida. The President’s agenda appears to be dictated by an extreme
environmental lobby opposed to all new production conventional,
economically viable energy.
Our domestic energy production capacity is growing rapidly. OPEC
influence is waning. America has a rare opportunity to both ensure
abundant energy growth and minimize national security risks. We must
make energy production and security political priorities.