Interior Secretary Envisions U.S. ‘Energy Dominance’
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke outlined his vision for making America a “dominant” global energy force in an interview with Reuters this week.
“Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran,” Zinke said, encouraging drilling and mining on federal lands.
Zinke explained in his interview that tougher restrictions on energy development could cost jobs, which would in turn make protecting the environment more challenging.
“There is a social cost of not having jobs,” Zinke said. “If you don’t have an economy you can’t afford to put in the environmental protections you need.”
Zinke’s comments to Reuters yesterday echo those he made in May, when he said at a conference in Houston, Texas, that the United States should look beyond energy independence and instead aim for energy dominance.
“How do we incentivize American energy dominance? And I choose my words carefully: dominance,” Zinke said. “There is a difference in energy independence, and there is a difference in energy dominance. We’re in a position to be dominant. And if we, as a country, want to have national security, and an economy that we all desperately need, then dominance is what America needs.”
Following Zinke’s remarks in Houston, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Katharine MacGregor said, “What is the task at hand? I think the secretary has been very clear, it’s energy dominance.”
“It’s not energy independence. He’s focused on energy dominance,” MacGregor continued. “Both President Trump and Secretary Zinke have been clear on that goal.”
Reuters reports that even though total oil production in the U.S. has almost set new records over the past decade, the share of oil produced on federal land has fallen from a third in 2010 to a fifth in 2015. Data from the Congressional Research Service indicates that even as production on federal lands dropped 15 percent from 2008 to 2015, production on state and private lands increased 66.2 percent. During the same period, growth in oil production on state and private lands outpaced that of production on federal lands almost by a factor of two. Federal revenues from oil production in 2016 amounted to $6 billion – the lowest since 2004.
Zinke explained that he is exploring ways to loosen restrictions on energy development. “My task is to … look at where we’re going to make changes, recommendations across the board,” Zinke said. “The stars have lined up so we can create energy jobs.”