Navy Secretary's Speech Illustrates National Security Threats from Obama's Energy Policies

In a speech Thursday at Arizona State University, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus discussed the relationship between American national and energy security.  Mabus's remarks highlight, once again, how President Barack Obama is acting contrary to the United States' national security interests by continuing to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as inhibiting full development of the USA's oil reserves on federal lands and in the offshore regions.  Acting against the national security interests of the nation runs contrary to the oath of office Obama took, as set forth in Article II, Section I, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States, which states:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: – "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Obama's views on energy security, or lack thereof, contrast sharply with the American Energy Renaissance Act, put forward in late March by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).  The companion legislation (S. 2170 and H.R. 4286) proposed by Cruz and Bridenstine would move the United States toward energy independence, increased national security, and enhanced economic growth.

In his speech, Secretary Mabus noted the "critical geopolitical role of energy," and that "as a security challenge, access to energy and fuel can be a diplomatic pressure point and can be, has been, and is used as a geostrategic weapon."  Thus, reducing the nation's dependence on oil imports from hostile regimes, often by way of highly vulnerable marine shipping lanes, would correspondingly increase American national security.  On these facts alone, Obama's energy policies weaken the USA's national security and act in a manner contrary to its best interests.

But Mabus made another important point:

Each $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil results in a $30 million bill for the Navy and Marine Corps. This has huge implications across the Department of Defense and for our security. DOD is the largest single institutional consumer of fossil fuels on earth and budgets about $15 billion each year on fuel. But in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 price spikes added another $3 billion to the DOD fuel bill. The bills from that 'security premium' can mean that we will have fewer resources for training, for operations and, if the bill gets too high, fewer platforms like ships and planes.

Had increased domestic oil production been promoted since Obama took office in 2009, the enhanced supply could have been deployed to help lower oil prices, thereby saving the U.S. military billions of dollars each year in unnecessary fuel costs.  The direct and indirect economic benefits of higher domestic oil production would also have reduced, or even eliminated, the need for deficit-reduction measures that have severely depleted American military capacity over the past few years.

Consequently, Obama's energy policies have harmed American national security in several key ways:

  • In the counterfactual, the USA is importing (and has had to import) more oil than it otherwise would be (have needed to) had Obama immediately approved the Keystone XL pipeline and also promoted full development of domestic oil resources since taking office.  Higher national security costs and risks accrue from the need to defend distant oil import sources and shipping lanes; these could have been avoided.
  • The oil revenues unnecessarily transferred to hostile regimes under Obama's energy policies, only empower and embolden them, thereby decreasing regional and global geopolitical stability and requiring higher levels of military spending abroad than would otherwise be the case.
  • Obama's decision to promote oil imports from hostile regimes over domestic self-sufficiency has reduced American economic growth, which results in higher deficits and less government revenues available for maintaining and improving national security.