Gardner Urges Energy Independence Following Saudi Arabia Attacks

“There is no foreign substitute for American energy.”

Washington, D.C. – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, spoke on the floor of the United States Senate this week highlighting the importance of hardening U.S. energy security following the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity.

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks.


Remarks as delivered:


Madam President,


Last weekend the world watched as an attack was launched on the oil processing infrastructure of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 


The attack initially reduced Saudi Arabia’s daily output capability in half, and that represents about 5% of daily global production. 


Oil prices around the globe spiked by as much as 19% before starting to fall on the news that there is enough oil in reserves around the world to deal with any short-term reduction from Saudi Arabia. 


One of those reserves that they were talking about of course, one of those reserve nations, includes this great nation – the United States. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is important to maintain, and I think we all recognize that, especially in light of the attack on Saudi Arabia, but I’ve always believed and had the mindset that we need long-term energy supply solutions in this country. 


And as the attack in Saudi Arabia has displayed, there is no substitute, there is no foreign substitute for American energy.


Should this attack on Saudi Arabia happened before our nation’s energy renaissance, we would have been in a much worse situation. The near monopolistic control other nations once had on the oil and gas market no longer exists – a credit to American ingenuity and innovation. 


In the last decade we’ve had a turning point in this country on energy, something that leaders around the world talk to and point to the United States. We’ve produced more oil and gas, we’ve improved energy conservation, and we’ve diversified greatly our energy sources. 


In 2015, we got rid of another handcuff to securing energy independence: we lifted the export ban on oil. That policy change both boosted America’s domestic energy industry and today is helping to settle markets after the attack in Saudi Arabia.


Lifting the ban has unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the market place, keeping prices steady and reducing the influence of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC and Russia. Think about that. What the United States has done to reduce that influence. 


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “U.S. petroleum and natural gas production increased by 16% and 12% respectively in 2018, and these totals combined established a new production record. 


The United States surpassed Russia in 2011 to become the world's largest producer of natural gas and surpassed Saudi Arabia in 2018 to become the world's largest producer of petroleum. 


And last year’s increase in the United States was one of the largest absolute petroleum and natural gas production increases from a single country in history.”


The United States continues its trend toward energy independence, and that’s a good thing.


Yet despite these successes, there are those who want to not just stop this trend – they intended to reverse our energy independence.


Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have endorsed a federal fracking ban. They want to ban the very production that gave us energy independence, that gave us independence from OPEC and Russia. They’ve endorsed ending fossil fuel exports. They’ve endorsed eliminating energy development on federal land. 


But tell me, do any of these policies actually result in more affordable energy prices? Do these policies make energy more reliable? Do these policies keep the price at the pump down? Do these policies keep our allies across the globe safer? Do these policies keep our troops safer?


Let’s take gas prices: if my Democratic colleagues are truly concerned about the impact of gas prices on their constituents’ pocketbooks, I’m curious if any of them could come up with a calculation of what gas prices would be after hydraulic fracturing was banned, stopping exporting fossil fuels to the global market, stopped energy development on federal land? What would that price be? I guarantee you they wouldn’t have very much opportunity or at least very much comfort for their constituents. 


Over 20% of the crude oil produced in this country in 2018 came from federal land. There’s little doubt that eliminating 20% of the supply of oil will have a significant impact on gas prices, and yet that is exactly what several have called for. 


Fracking has extended the productive life and resource recovery at the Bakken, Eagle Ford Shale, Marcellus Shale, Niobrara, and Permian Basin formations, just to name a few. 


As a matter of fact, the U.S. Geological Survey, USGS, published an updated assessment of the Permian Basin’s resources in 2018. The Permian by itself already produces 1/3 of the nation’s oil. And the updated assessment estimates that over 46 billion barrels of oil, 280 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids are trapped in these low-permeability shale formations.


The nation’s supply of oil and gas reserves essentially doubled in the blink of an eye, under that report.


Colorado’s Western Slope is home to the Piceance Basin. In 2016 USGS issued a similarly larger reassessment of the recoverable resources in the Piceance. The USGS estimated mean volume of 66.3 trillion cubic feet of gas, 74 million barrels of oil, and 45 million barrels of natural gas liquids.


The Uinta-Piceance Basin that covers western Colorado and eastern Utah has an abundant supply of natural gas that could be exported through a west coast Liquified Natural Gas terminal like Jordan Cove to our allies out of the Pacific. 


We’ve got enough energy resources to meet our domestic needs and to meet the need of energy overseas. Let’s relish that fact.


Rarely do we have chances to provide economic opportunities here at home and energy security to our partners abroad and make sure our allies have those opportunities as well, and that we can use this production here, the innovation and the investments we’ve made here, to weaken our enemies all in one area like energy production. 


Let’s think about what the world could look like if we hadn’t moved in the direction of increased domestic production in recent years.


The decline of Venezuela’s oil production over the last 12 years, and the resulting political instability in the country, would have hurt the United States’ import ability.


OPEC and Russia would have a significantly larger role than they do today in determining global production levels, and we have seen how that has played out for the United States in the past.  


We could very well be where China is today – overly dependent on imports from Saudi Arabia, and terrified that the slightest hiccup in their production ability could have far-reaching consequences for our economy. Or rather, we would find ourselves exactly where we were in 1973.


And that’s where we will end up if my colleagues get their way and ban energy production, hydraulic fracturing, or pass the Green New Deal as they would like.


These policies would once again make us dependent on foreign sources of energy and vulnerable to the geopolitical manipulation that comes with that dependence.


As recently as 2005, we were dependent on imports for two-thirds of our oil consumption. More than twice what we were reliant on in 1973 when we had a supply crisis during the embargo. 


If that were still true today, this attack on Saudi Arabia would be a significant cause of concern for the United States and for our United States oil supply. 


But because the pursuit of energy independence in the United States and the security we have achieved through these innovations and developments, we’re confident that we can weather short term supply disruptions in the global market.


But banning production, banning the development of energy in Colorado, or implementing policies like the Green New Deal would kill not only our opportunity to be energy independent to weather the storm of a global supply crisis, but also kill millions of jobs around the United States that pay far above average wages.


The oil and gas industry supports over 10 million jobs in the United States and accounts for almost 8% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. The jobs have an average salary of over $100,000 a year. 


So these are good-paying jobs that enable people to provide for their family, contribute to domestic energy security and our goal of energy independence, and allow us the ability to send a responsibly-developed resource to our allies overseas who want a dependable trade partner.


And many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, they simply want to do away with this industry, those jobs, those salaries, that freedom, the independence and the prosperity that it brings.


Instead of talking about putting our traditional energy sources out of business, why don’t we talk about hardening our energy infrastructure, protecting these critical assets, and continuing to responsibly produce those resources for us, the environment, and for the world?


Doing so is a win for the United States, it’s a win for our communities, and those who wish to partner with us to fuel the world’s economy. It’s incredibly important that we have energy independence. And I can’t think of a more disruptive crisis the world could have faced had this happened in a country where we no longer had the production that we do today.


Madam President thank you, and I hope that we can work together on energy policies that continue to create jobs and grow the American economy.


I yield the floor.




Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.