Zinke’s veiled ‘American Energy Dominance’ rhetoric

Record oil & gas exports while America’s strategic reserves sit at historic lows

As more and more of America’s public lands are put on the auctioning block for oil and gas development, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke continues to tout a now-familiar message. He claims that these vast swaths of sacred public lands, critical habitat, and iconic landscapes have to be part of a larger effort by the administration to establish ‘American Energy Dominance,’ a claim that received four Pinocchio’s from The Washington Post last year but one that the Secretary continues to make.

While the double-talk by Zinke might make good sound bites on cable news, the reality is America was already producing record amounts of oil and gas prior to this administration and is only now approaching 2015 levels. You can see more analysis on what’s driving production in our “Rigged” series.

US Oil production

But what has this energy dominance rhetoric meant for the rest of us?

America’s strategic energy reserves, managed by the Department of Energy under same presidential proclamation used by Secretary Zinke to justify an all-out assault on our public lands, sit at historic lows. We also find that our oil and gas exports are now at record levels, with America becoming a natural gas net exporter for the first time in 60 years.

None of these policies have been shown to be of much value to the American public or of strategic importance as Zinke claims.  In reality, these directives decimate our public lands and wildlife habitat – public lands that support the $887 billion recreation and outdoor economy.

The truth is that this has always been about paying back the oil and gas corporations that have bankrolled Zinke’s political career. Would the American people really support sacrificing public lands in important areas if they knew that record amounts were now being exported while our strategic reserves dwindle under this administration? If the outcry in Florida over plans to drill offshore is any indication, probably not.

Also published on Medium.

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