It’s Time to Celebrate American Energy Independence

This summer we reached a milestone in the American energy industry. The United States now produces 12 million barrels of crude oil per day. This shatters the record set a year ago, which in turn shatters the U.S. production record set way back in 1970. The United States is now the world’s top energy producer.

We didn’t break the record by sheer luck. In fact, if the Democrats had their way, we wouldn’t have broken the record at all.

Think back to 2011. Gas prices were near $4 a gallon. The entire nation was searching for a solution to what at the time seemed like prices that would only increase.

High gas prices disproportionately hit the poor the hardest. High gas prices impact everything from their commute to work, to how much they end up taking home each paycheck.

But in 2011, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a Democrat who had a solution. One who certainly did not was President Barack Obama.

As gas prices rose and rose, the president – who I should point out had no experience whatsoever in the energy industry – said, “We can’t just drill our way out of the problem. If we’re serious about addressing our energy problems, we’re going to have to do more than drill.” He made these remarks in May 2011, and later mocked those who chanted “Drill Baby Drill” in the runup to the 2012 election.

Fast forward to 2019. President Obama and everyone who agreed with him has been proven wrong.

The United States – not Saudi Arabia or Russia – is now the world’s largest crude oil producer. This was unthinkable a few years ago, when politicians bemoaned our dependence on foreign oil, without ever offering any solutions.

In the new energy economy Texas leads the way and is almost certain to exceed 5 million barrels per day, or about 40% of the total American output.

As if to underscore just how huge a player Texas now is, a company here recently inked a deal to export natural gas – to Saudi Arabia.

So how did we get here? How did things change so much in just eight years?

On the science side, we have made major oil discoveries in the past few years. The Permian Basin in West Texas is much larger than previously thought. The United States is now estimated to have 293 billion barrels of oil under the ground. That’s more than both Saudi Arabia and Russia, to say nothing of oil-producing countries like Iran and Venezuela.

And thanks to improved engineering and extraction techniques, we can recover more and more of that oil than ever before. If you think I’m referring to fracking, you’re right. Fracking is driving the Texas energy boom. Fracking is also driving the boom in North Dakota. Fracking is keeping prices at the pump much lower than they were 8 years ago.

At the same time, as a Texas energy regulator, I’m pleased to tell you that in our state, we encourage energy development that is clean and responsible. We go after violators and fine them. We plug abandoned oil wells. We protect our precious environment. We have created a regulatory environment that is fair and predictable for producers and for consumers.

Now, we still have work to do. We need to continue finding ways to move product to market, which means roads and pipelines from the fields to ports and refineries. The Trump administration is working with Texas, deepening the Port of Corpus Christi and improving the Port of Brownsville – projects that mean good jobs and improved throughput and stability for America’s increasing energy independence. Whether you live in Texas or not, these projects will benefit you by helping keep pump prices low and reducing the impact of price shocks such as instability in the Middle East. And we should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that includes wind, solar, nuclear and other ways to generate power.

We shouldn’t listen to those who would punish Americans with higher energy prices for their own political purposes. From Barack Obama to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they have been proven wrong time and again.

For the first time in generations, America is producing more energy than any other nation. This strengthens our economic security and our national security. We have achieved this through hard work, good science and commonsense regulation. Every American should be proud of this accomplishment. Let’s celebrate American energy independence.

Ryan Sitton was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas production, in 2014. He built his thriving reliability company, PinnacleART, in his garage in 2006 – today it ensures engineering safety around the world. He is Texas A&M’s youngest ever Distinguished Graduate of its College of Engineering and is the first engineer to serve on the RRC in over 50 years.