U.S. energy exports critical to strengthening security in Asia-Pacific: ACCF


WASHINGTON -- More than 40 thought-leaders and Hill staff filled the historic Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday morning for an hour-long discussion on U.S. energy policy, which concentrated mostly on the decades-long ban on exporting domestic crude oil.

Hosted by the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), the policy briefing examined the role that free trade of American energy resources could play in bolstering international security and strengthening global energy markets.

"The United States finds itself in the enviable position of being able to provide the global market with abundant and reliable energy resources and at the same time strengthen U.S. foreign policy," said ACCF Executive V.P. George David Banks. Banks was one of the panelists at Tuesday's forum, and he also recently released a white paper, Managing Pacific Rim Security Risks With U.S. Energy, that explores how the country's energy abundance could help bolster confidence in security of supply and reduce tensions in the South China Sea.

The event kicked off with a keynote address from U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO). A member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Foreign Relations Committees, Senator Gardner discussed the impact of the energy sector on his state's economy and talked extensively about his overseas travels underscoring the critical need for American energy exports.

"We have antiquated policies that were put in place in the 1970s that prohibit us from exporting our crude oil, yet we have allies around the globe asking the United States to provide them with a stable supply of energy," Senator Gardner said. "We should change this policy in order for the U.S. to be a global leader and to support our allies by making them less dependent on energy from hostile nations.  I am hopeful that Congress can lift the crude export ban this year—there are still opportunities for this to pass."


The panel was moderated by Jeffrey Kupfer, a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy and now an adjunct professor of policy and management at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College. In addition to Banks, the panel was filled out by Clara Gillispie, director of Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research and Takashi Kume, special advisor at the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"Over the last three decades the Asian economic miracle has lifted 1 billion people out of poverty," Gillispie said. "But with 700 million people still without regular access to energy and demand forecasted to continue to rise, ensuring access to adequate energy supply that can sustain economic growth is a key issue for the region. Because of the scale of Asia's demand, regional self-sufficiency, especially in China, is not realistic. Stakeholders in Asia are closely following the debates surrounding the U.S. ban on crude oil exports, as many see reform as a step that could ease concerns about pricing and supplies and sends a significant signal to the Asia-Pacific region about our commitments to free trade and open markets."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. oil import dependence is expected to be just 14% by 2020, down from a high of about 60% in 2005. In contrast, China is expected to buy roughly 70% of its oil from foreign sources within the next few decades. The ACCF policy paper identifies numerous geopolitical and economic opportunities embedded within America's skyrocketing energy supply and China's diminishing energy security.

"It's not too late for Congress to take action this year," concluded Banks. "There are several must-pass bills on the agenda that will soon land on President Obama's desk. We need crude oil exports language on those bills. It's time for our leaders here in Washington to finally say goodbye to the energy policies of the past and embrace an energy policy for the future."

Founded in 1973, The American Council for Capital Formation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic policy organization dedicated to the advocacy of tax, energy, environmental and regulatory policies that encourage saving and investment.

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