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3 MIN   |  Energy Security, Workforce

American Net Energy Imports are at Record Lows

Here’s why it matters

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September 25, 2020

In 2003, Time magazine ran an article declaring the U.S. was running out of natural gas and an energy shortage was imminent. Today, thanks to new technology and innovative processes, America has an abundant domestic supply of both natural gas and oil. In 2019, for the first time since the 1950s, America produced more energy than it consumed.

This revolution hasn’t just lowered energy costs for Americans, it’s also strengthened our position on the global stage and our domestic economy.

Every president since Richard Nixon has called for America produce more of its own energy so that we can limit our entanglement with unstable foreign actors.

“The global energy abundance that was in large part due to American shale . . . has helped U.S. allies and, on the whole, tended to harm its adversaries, from Iran to Russia to Venezuela,” Meghan O’Sullivan, the head of the geopolitics program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School told the Financial Times earlier this year.

Strength on the Global Stage

Metal worker in protective suit and gloves cutting pipe with electric grinder

In 2019, the U.S. imported 23 quadrillion British thermal units of energy, down from 34 quadrillion British thermal units in 2007, a 32% decrease. With more of our energy being produced domestically, we’ve been able to reduce our reliance on volatile countries such as Iraq, Libya and Venezuela.

The European Union too stands to benefit from America’s abundant supply of energy. While European countries have historically relied heavily on Russia for their energy needs, analysts hope imports of American energy will change that.

“Energy remains a critical aspect and a critical component of our national security,” Atlantic Council Executive Chairman Emeritus General James L. Jones Jr. said at a recent event, “the United States’ role as an energy and energy technology exporter has provided a deeper toolbox of policy options to meet our foreign policy goals.”

The shale revolution “has revolutionized our foreign policy, and it frees us to pursue options that we have not had at least in my lifetime,” added U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

Even as American natural gas and oil industries rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent recession, our reliance on foreign countries for energy remains far lower than it was just 20 years ago.

Benefits at Home

The benefits of America’s energy boom extend beyond reducing our net imports of energy. It’s also created new jobs and spurred a manufacturing renaissance. In 2017, the natural gas and oil industry supported 10.3 million jobs.

The crucial role America’s energy industry plays in supporting and creating jobs won’t change anytime soon. A new study from North America’s Building Trades Union found there are great opportunities for workers in energy construction.

“Oil and gas jobs are high-quality jobs, and as we rebuild the economy and transition, we need a plan to rebuild the middle class with family-sustainable wages, training and growth opportunities, and long-term and short-term benefits like the oil and gas construction sectors provide,” Sean McGarvey, the union’s president said.

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