- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

Amid President Trump’s vow to bring about American “energy dominance,” U.S. crude oil production hit a five-decade high late last year and has nearly doubled over the past decade, continuing the country’s steady ascent as one of the world’s premier oil-and-gas hubs.

In November 2017 — the latest month for which full numbers are available — crude oil production reached 10.038 million barrels per day. That’s the highest figure since November 1970, when the U.S. produced 10.044 million barrels per day on average.

Over the last 10 years, production has roughly doubled. From 2000 through 2010, American production fluctuated between 4 and 6 million barrels per day, federal data show, before beginning to climb at the beginning of this decade.

The massive uptick largely has been due to the perfection of fracking, and the discovery of vast new fuel deposits in North Dakota and elsewhere across the country.

Texas led the way in setting the 48-year record, producing 3.89 million barrels each day last November, the Energy Information Administration said in its report.

“American crude oil is a gamechanger in international trade, global politics and domestic energy security,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said in a statement after the federal numbers were made public. “Crude oil imports are down 20 percent from 2006 and today we are competing with the Middle East in the export market. These outcomes were unthinkable a decade ago and are a direct result of our strong workforce, dedication to technology and consistent regulations and policies.”

The numbers underscore just how dramatically America’s fuel production has increased during the latter half of the Obama administration and the beginning of Mr. Trump’s tenure. Crude oil production had been on a consistent decline since the mid-1980s until beginning its reversal in 2010 and 2011.

Natural gas production also has skyrocketed, lessening the country’s dependence on foreign imports and putting the U.S. in a position to be a major exporter of fuel for the first time in decades.

While the transformation had begun long before he took office, Mr. Trump this week said his administration has played a key role.

“We have ended the war on American energy … We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world,” the president said during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

The White House’s plans to accelerate American oil-and-gas production have, to a large extent, only just begun. The administration has greenlit oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, finally achieving a decades-long Republican goal of opening up parts of the environmentally sensitive area to oil exploration.

Mr. Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also have called for a huge expansion of offshore oil drilling, seeking to open up nearly 90 percent of America’s waters to production. While the Florida coast has been taken off the table after objections from Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, the administration is moving ahead with exploration plans elsewhere off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in Alaska, and in the Gulf of Mexico.

But that plan is meeting stiff resistance from coastal governors of both parties, who say oil drilling off their shores could dampen tourism and cause economic hardship.

A coalition of 12 attorneys general on Thursday — including those in Republican-led states of North Carolina, Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts — sent a letter to Mr. Zinke objecting to the proposal.

“At a minimum, three million jobs across America depend on the ocean and coastal economy, which generated more than $350 billion in gross domestic product in 2014 alone,” they wrote. “Your proposal threatens these jobs and the economic prosperity of our states. It also endangers the unique ecologies of our shores and state ocean waters.”

In addition to potential offshore expansion, Mr. Trump’s policies are leading directly to more energy investment in the U.S. Earlier this week, ExxonMobil announced that it would invest an additional $50 billion into its U.S. operations as a result of the tax-reform package passed by congressional Republicans and signed by the president.

“Good to see sound policy laying the groundwork for America’s future economic success,” ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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