Viewpoint: The United States should bring more natural gas to market 



By Michael Hall 

No blood for oil! That’s been the left’s rallying cry for 50 years since the 1973 Arab oil embargo. It’s a sentiment only a fool would argue with. It’s revolting to see America kiss up to Saudis who behead people for adultery or petty dictators who brag about killing LGBTQ+ people. It’s revolting to think the hope and promise of America, the ideal that everyone can be free to live their own life, is held hostage to our need to import energy. America has had a foreign policy dictated by our need for fossil fuels for too long. 

Maine has its own connection to the war for oil. Sgt Richard Parker from Phillips was killed in Scania, Iraq, on June 13, 2007, by an Iranian-made IED. Richard left behind a fiancée and a 5-month-old son he never saw. Staff Sgt. Dale Kelly, from Richmond, was killed in Ad Diwanyah, Iraq, on May 6, 2006, by an IED. Dale left behind three children and three grandchildren. I knew them both and was deployed in Iraq at the time they died. 

The Iranian IEDs that killed Sgts. Parker and Kelly were paid for by Iranian oil sales. Vladimir Putin’s adventures in Ukraine, including the Crimea, are paid for by his oil and gas sales. Controlling Ukraine’s and Kazakhstan’s extensive petroleum reserves may be the real reason for his reckless adventures. Oil and gas sales are the only thing propping up Venezuela. All these bad actors are vulnerable to fluctuations in the prices of oil and natural gas. 

Iranian oil, gas and petroleum exports kept the Shah and now the Mullahs in power. The Iranian people keep trying to rise up and take their country back, but oil revenues have funded oppression there for nearly 50 years. Sanctions do not work, as someone is always willing to cheat. By driving down the world price of energy the Iranians won’t be able to afford to fund Hezbollah or give rockets to the Palestinians. 

The Russians, unlike the Chinese, do not build cars, iPhones or televisions. The Russian economy is dependent on petroleum sales. Without energy sales Putin cannot afford to build nuclear-tipped hypersonic missiles. The Russian navy and air force were mothballed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. No money for expensive ships and planes. Energy exports have brought the Russian military back to life. Why worry about a military confrontation with the Russians over Ukraine? We can bankrupt them without firing a shot. 

America can reduce the ability of the Russians and Iranians to cause mischief in the world, mitigate climate change and reduce the inflation ravaging the USA by flooding the world with cheap natural gas. 

The goal of every president’s administration for the last 50 years has been American energy independence. We have oscillated between Republicans’ “drill baby drill” and Democrats’ “conserve baby conserve” as though the two were mutually exclusive. We should have high national fuel economy and insulation standards as well as abundant energy.  

Trump supporters want to take credit for our energy independence. But technological advances in horizontal drilling and fracking for natural gas were developed over the last 20 years. Energy independence was in sight. The Biden administration upon inauguration was handed a golden goose. No more would we have to send young men and women off to die. 

The Biden administration’s eagerness to generate positive press and appear to combat climate change is shortsighted. Raising the price of energy to Americans is counterproductive. The Indians and Chinese are shoveling coal into electrical power plants as fast as they can. The Biden administration has now thrown away the greatest strategic advantage the world has ever seen.  

India pledged at the 2021 Glasgow climate conference to use less coal by the year 2070. As India lifts its people out of poverty by industrialization, following Britain, America, Japan and China, it means 50 more years of burning coal. We can avoid the extra CO2 pouring into the atmosphere by selling natural gas so cheaply it makes dollars and sense for India to switch now.  

Cheap and abundant natural gas will also force down the price of electricity in America. One year into the Biden administration and skyrocketing gas prices have every electrical utility pushing for rate hikes.  

Natural gas can be a bridge fuel to a sustainable hydrogen future. The technology for compressing and liquifying gas is tried and true.  

High global energy prices transfer purchasing power from American consumers into the pockets of dictators and oligarchs around the world. Once again, the American people are funding bloodshed and oppression. Maybe the planet will warm 3 degrees in the next 100 years as projected or maybe not. But it is guaranteed the worst governments around the globe will now have the money they need to cause death and destruction. History will remember we had them on the ropes without firing a shot and threw our chance away.  

 

Michael Hall earned his degree in economics from the University of Maine and was deployed to Iraq in 2006-07. He lives in Trenton. 

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