Thomas Catenacci, DCNF
- Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke explained that the Trump administration, which he served in between 2017-2019, prepared for an energy crisis by implementing policies prioritizing U.S. energy independence.
- “A lot of it is what we did do,” Zinke said. “When I came in, we were 8.9 million barrels a day and declining. In two short years, we were 12.2 million barrels a day and the world’s largest exporter and the production lines were all going up. Gas was also two bucks a gallon.”
- Zinke added that the U.S. should expand natural gas transportation and export terminal infrastructure to make it easier to “supply our allies with affordable, abundant and reliable fuels.”
The Trump administration’s energy policy was crafted to avoid dependence on hostile nations like Russia by incentivizing domestic production, according to former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Zinke said former President Donald Trump aimed to avoid a situation such as the current crisis through his energy policy, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. The Trump administration sought to increase energy independence to avoid ever being beholden to hostile foreign powers, he added.
“A lot of it is what we did do,” Zinke said. “When I came in, we were 8.9 million barrels a day and declining. In two short years, we were 12.2 million barrels a day and the world’s largest exporter and the production lines were all going up. Gas was also two bucks a gallon.”
Zinke, though, also noted some near-term policies the U.S. should immediately pursue including a renewed focus on expanding natural gas transportation and export terminal infrastructure to make it easier to “supply our allies with affordable, abundant and reliable fuels.” He added that the government should also boost imports and production of heavier crude oil which is important for industrial use.
“We have better fuels, better technology, better refining capability. We do much better here,” Zinke continued. “And it changed. All of the sudden we were not in the position that Europe is today where they are beholden to Russian fuels.”
“When you’re beholden and held hostage by either your enemy or your competitor, your options are limited. And that’s why the Trump policy was energy dominance,” he added.
In 2016, the U.S. drilled 8.9 million barrels of oil per day while Russia produced 10.6 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. By 2019, the U.S. produced 12.2 million barrels of oil per day compared to the 10.8 million barrels per day drilled by Russia, the data showed.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, global crude oil and gasoline prices have skyrocketed on market uncertainty, putting the spotlight on Western reliance on Russian energy. The average price of gasoline nationwide peaked near $4.31, an all-time high, earlier in March, federal data showed.
Factoring in oil, natural gas and coal, the U.S. became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 75 years during the Trump presidency.
During the Trump administration, the government approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and nixed the Obama administration’s moratorium on coal leasing. The administration also reformed the natural gas terminal permitting process and opposed the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline which it argued was a form of “Russian energy coercion.”
But President Joe Biden has reversed much of Trump’s energy policies. Amid the ongoing global energy supply shock, Republican lawmakers and fossil fuel industry groups have urged the White House to reinstate Trump-era policies and boost domestic production.
“If you look at the potential of this country and what was accomplished during the first two years of the Trump administration and then look at the damage in the first year and a half with this administration, it’s mind boggling in comparison,” Zinke told the DCNF.
“Russia has Europe over a barrel,” he said. “Thanks to the Trump administration, we leveraged our technology, our innovation and our permit process so we could actually produce energy in this country. Largely that has been swept away by the Biden administration, the sole interest of which is the Green New Deal.”
Zinke led the Department of the Interior between 2017-2019 during the Trump administration. He confirmed in June that he would run for an open House seat representing Montana in 2022.
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