If you hadn’t heard, the Trump Administration has declared this week to be “Energy Week”, a week during which the President and his senior officials are focusing on the theme of “U.S. Energy Dominance.” Not “energy independence” or “energy security”, both themes past presidential administrations have focused upon – “energy dominance.”
So, what does it all mean, and can the United States actually achieve it? Good questions. Here are some answers.
First, when President Trump talks about his goal of Energy Dominance, he’s referring to a plan that envisions implementing policies that encourage four major elements:
• Increasing exports of all three of those fossil fuels and their related products;
• Relying more on imports of oil from Canada, Mexico and other Western Hemisphere nations, and less on imports from the Middle East and North Africa; and
• Leveraging all of those three elements to enhance U.S. bargaining positions in its foreign policy initiatives.
Right on cue, we saw the President engage in a bit of energy-leveraging during his discussions this week with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, folding India’s growing reliance on U.S. LNG imports into his request for a lessening of the rapidly growing nation’s import tariffs on U.S. goods. We should expect to see the President rely more and more on this sort of leverage as U.S. exports of oil, LNG and coal continue to rapidly grow in coming years. This, more than anything else, is what the President means when he talks about Energy Dominance.
Critics point to the reality that the U.S. currently imports about half of its daily crude oil needs, but they miss the point. This is not a discussion about energy “independence” – the President clearly understands that the U.S. will always be a net importer of crude oil.