One reason Vladimir Putin has had so much clout in Europe–especially in the Eastern European nations that were once under Communist rule–is that Russia has supplied much of the region’s oil and natural gas. Now many of those nations are buying from the United States instead.
Putin sometimes threatens to cut off energy shipments to countries that cross him, and sometimes he has carried out that threat.
Up until recently, Russia was the world’s largest natural gas producer. But thanks to fracking and other technological advances that allow gas to be extracted from shale formations, that status has been taken over by the United States. These processes have also created a huge surge in U.S. oil production.
Since 1973, U.S. energy producers were not allowed to export crude oil. At the time, the U.S. was dependent on importing foreign oil, so lawmakers reasoned that we should keep domestic production in the country. But since the fracking and shale boom dramatically increased U.S. oil production, the law was changed in 2015 to allow for exports. In the two years since crude oil exports became legal, the U.S. now sells a million barrels a day to over 30 countries. (Read this.)
And now Poland has announced that it will not be renewing its contract with Russia to supply its energy needs. The United States is expected to move into that vacuum.
This editorial from the Daily Oklahoman details these developments: U.S. flexing its oil and gas muscles | News OK.
It goes on to make the case that this economic success–which weakens authoritarian regimes in Russia and the Middle East–contributes to world peace.
The editorial develops a parallel between Ronald Reagan’s strategy of “peace through strength”–that is, military strength–and this example of peace through economic strength.
I know that many people condemn the oil industry. Environmentalists, concerned about global warming, are against the use of fossil fuels altogether, though they also have qualms about the much-cleaner energy sources of nuclear and wind power. (Natural gas, by the way, is a much cleaner fuel than many of the alternatives.)
But do you agree that the growth of American oil and gas exports, at the expense of Russia and OPEC, is a good thing?
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Richard J. Brunson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons