Joco Opinion

Kansas energy development is crucial to America’s independence

The Pioneer oil refinery in El Dorado, Kan.
The Pioneer oil refinery in El Dorado, Kan. AP

July is a special month for many Americans. Most of us will eagerly take a break from our busy summer schedules to again celebrate Independence Day. There will be much fanfare with fireworks, parades, picnics and other patriotic events celebrating our country’s independence from Great Britain in 1776. But when the festivities have ended, only a few will have reflected upon the true meaning of independence and the role it has played in shaping our nation’s character.

Freedom and independence are cornerstones in the foundation of our country’s heritage. The independent ideology of the American people is a fundamental element of our society and a key to our nation’s prosperity. We must protect that independence at all costs.

One important freedom we must protect is our free enterprise system. American business, and certainly the oil and gas industry, was founded upon the ideology of independence and free-market principles. Those principles allow business to be governed by the laws of supply and demand without government interference and excessive regulation. The dynamic free market has led to innovation and wealth creation, and it has established an economic environment where hard work is rewarded.

Today, however, it seems free-market capitalism and independence is often under attack by those who oppose American energy development. Small, vocal groups of activists across the nation work to obstruct energy development and infrastructure projects, reducing our energy options under a false belief that oil and gas production and use are incompatible with environmental progress.

Mischaracterizing oil and gas activity continues to be a common practice and strategy of activist groups. In addition, some policymakers espouse the misguided notion that surging oil exports are partially responsible for rising gasoline prices. This claim ignores the basic facts of the geopolitical marketplace and is absolutely wrong.

Policymakers should take time to understand the facts about energy and the obstacles to making it affordable and reliable. America is home to vast natural resources, but many of our energy policies are outdated and built on the notion that energy is scarce and becoming more scarce. We have enough energy resources to provide reliable and affordable energy for decades, even centuries to come.

Policies that support development of American oil and gas resources don’t just mean more jobs, more economic growth and more money for federal and state governments. They mean something important to all of us. They mean energy security.

Policies that encourage the development of America’s vast oil and gas resources could rebalance energy geopolitics, making our nation energy independent. This is not a vision of America at the mercy of other oil-producing regions or an America threatened by scarce resources. It is a vision of America holding the reins of her energy security and future prosperity.

This vision is threatened by those who want to restrain or even stop oil and natural gas development. They favor only certain resources and particular investments. They obstruct and delay oil and natural gas investments by building legal hurdles, propose excessive and duplicative rules and regulations, and call for increased taxes on oil and natural gas companies to create capital starvation for drilling.

A rational energy policy and common-sense regulatory structure is necessary to support and encourage the development of this vision of energy independence. The Trump administration has begun to dismantle the failed energy policies of the previous administration and to unleash America’s oil and gas producers from crippling federal regulations. This new approach encourages business development rather than discouraging it. This kind of leadership and vision can turn energy policy challenges into great opportunities for economic growth and energy security.

We must abandon policies driven by a zero-sum game philosophy for energy that says we must have less oil and natural gas so that we can have more of something else. We should set aside the acrimony and division that has marked too much of past national energy policy discussions and work together as one nation on a positive, forward-looking energy future based on the understanding that our nation’s best energy future can be achieved only through a true all-of-the-above energy strategy.

In his 1946 Independence Day speech, then congressional candidate John F. Kennedy said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Those words were never so true.

Being mindful of the erosion of our independence and free-market system by those who oppose American energy development cannot be overemphasized. We must, now more than ever, remain steadfast in our resolve to protect and preserve the precious independence that has molded our nation’s character.

Edward Cross is president of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association.