Op-Ed: America’s energy and economic destiny will be up to the U.S., not the U.N.

Source: By Ryan Zinke, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This month, President Trump took decisive action to pull the United States out of the poorly negotiated Paris Accord. The Paris Accord was a bad deal for America. The agreement, which was crafted by the United Nations and signed by the Obama administration, would kill American jobs and manufacturing and cost our economy trillions of dollars, all while doing little to actually protect the environment, according to an MIT study.

To meet the benchmarks in the Paris Accord, it’s estimated the U.S. would lose $3 trillion in output, six million industrial jobs, and three million manufacturing jobs. No more. No longer will the United States sign agreements that punish American workers.

Under the Trump Administration, America’s energy and economic destiny will be up to the United States, not the United Nations.

There is no debate that the government should regulate energy within its borders and that taxpayers should get fair value for the resources. But when regulation crushes American innovation and becomes a tool of political advocacy rather than public interest, we must change course.

We all agree that clean air and clean water are top priorities, but this deal was an example of another give-away to foreign interests and locks America into a permanent competitive disadvantage. America is the global leader in energy production, and we will not relinquish our stature. We have the resources and expertise to continue leading the world. To not use our resources to our complete advantage is wrong.

Developing American energy and achieving American energy dominance has three major benefits to the environment, economy, and national security:

  • First, it’s better for the environment that the U.S. produces energy. We can responsibly develop our energy resources and restore the land to multiple use. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty it is better to develop our energy here under reasonable regulations rather than have it produced overseas under little or no regulations.
  • Second, energy production is a boon to the economy, supporting more than 9.8 million jobs and supplying affordable power for homes, hospitals, manufacturing, and transportation. But for too many local communities, energy development has been more of a missed opportunity and has failed to include local consultation and partnership.
  • And, lastly, American energy dominance will strengthen our national security by eliminating our reliance on foreign oil and allowing us to assist our allies. As a military commander, I saw how the power of American energy defeated our adversaries around the world. As a former SEAL Commander, I never want our nation’s children to see what I saw and go to war over resources we have in abundance here. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will once again develop our resources and use them as a diplomatic force to keep prices low and Americans safe.

Cities like Des Moines were built on energy, hard work and American ingenuity. This administration will not sit by as American cities and jobs are destroyed by bad deals that were negotiated by foreign countries.

It’s time Washington realizes how real America operates and how the bad decisions made in the swamp have negative impacts on workers in Iowa, Texas and Alaska.

I understand people may be concerned about any environmental impact that development may have, and the president and I share that concern. However, good stewardship of our lands and waters and responsible use of our natural resources are not mutually exclusive.

For example: I was just in Alaska where Native Alaskan leaders expressed to me their long-held desire to increase oil and gas exploration in the Arctic so they can create jobs and fund their schools, hospitals and infrastructure. They showed me how advancements in technology make it possible to extract resources from the ground with only a small footprint on the surface. This allows for both energy development and continued traditional uses of the land.

Long gone are the days where oil, gas, and coal extraction means flipping a stream bed upside down. I’ve gone horseback riding across the rolling hills in Montana. While once there was a coal mine there, today the hills are covered with trees, wildflowers and wildlife, proving we can extract resources and reclaim the land for future multiple use. That’s the power of American ingenuity, smart regulations and reclamation plans.

The United States is already a clean energy leader without the Paris Accord. Industry leaders have continually worked to cut emissions and become more efficient because it’s good for the planet and good for business. Working with industry partners and local governments, I am confident that advancements in technology and smart regulations will allow the United States to continue responsible energy development and production and also continue to lower emissions.

Ryan Zinke is the 52nd secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Interior is in charge of all energy development on federal lands, including oil, gas, coal, wind, geothermal, and other sources, as well as oil, gas and wind on the Outer Continental Shelf.