Energy can be used as fuel for growth and prosperity, or it can be used as a tool to prop up nefarious dictators around the world. In America, our energy renaissance has been the one bright spot in our economy, creating jobs and providing the opportunity for expansion. But other countries—including our allies who are not blessed with abundant energy like the United States—are threatened when the energy they rely on comes from unsavory sources.
Ukraine is the prime example. As Ukraine still struggled against Russia who had just taken Crimea and was fueling the separatists in the east, the Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine. It was the middle of winter, and if the energy stopped flowing, people’s lives would have been at risk. Ukraine ended up sending Russia millions of dollars to keep the pumps flowing into the next month. And this wasn’t the first time Russia used energy as leverage.
In 2009, a number of European countries lost their gas supply when Russia cut off the pumps in a pricing dispute with Ukraine. This led to energy shortages across the entirety of Europe in the dead of winter.
Currently, Europe receives roughly 30 percent of its oil from Russia, making them largely dependent on a regime that has shown little remorse at using energy as a weapon. Some of our allies are even more reliant on Russia, including Poland, which imported 93 percent of its crude oil from Russia in 2014.
As America has become the largest combined gas and oil producer in the world, opening up our oil to the global marketplace will not only help our economy, it will also help release our allies from dependence on foreign aggressors or other destabilizing countries.
From Japan and India to Poland and Germany, we can help our allies across the world and ourselves by finally lifting the oil export ban.