When Sarah Palin first came to national attention as John McCain’s running mate during the 2008 election, the then-Alaska governor was fond of saying “Drill, baby, drill!” — a slogan that highlighted the fact that America’s energy woes could be solved by increased drilling at home.
At the time, Palin’s exhortations were laughed at, mostly in the same way every comment Palin made was mocked — by Democrats and the media. (Meanwhile, her counterpart on the Democrat side, Joe Biden, was rarely if ever made to explain regular obtuse statements, like why he once said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking,”)
Palin’s remarks came at a point in time where gas was $4 a gallon in many places, and many “experts” said it would rise from there. It looked like a Prius was going to be in pretty much everyone’s future. During the intervening eight years, despite the development of new oil-extracting technologies, including fracking and shale oil production, the Obama administration fought strenuously against energy development, all in the absence of any real evidence of significant environmental damage caused by it.
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: What a difference an administration makes.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the world has seemingly turned upside down: The United States is now exporting oil to one of the most oil-rich nations on earth.
“The United Arab Emirates, a model Persian Gulf petro-state where endless billions from crude exports feed a giant sovereign wealth fund, isn’t the most obvious customer for Texan oil,” the AP reports.
“Yet, in a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the UAE bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. A tanker sailed from Houston and arrived in the Persian Gulf last month.”
The reasoning behind the decision, in spite of the United Arab Emirates’ vast supplies of oil, is that the grade exported to the Middle Eastern nation is American condensate, which is very light.
This grade is “preferred to regional grades because its superior quality made it more suitable for the UAE’s processing plants, one individual said,” the AP reported.
The UAE purchased its condensate from Qatar until last year, the AP reported. In 2017, the emirates Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East broke ties with Qatar over Qatar’s support for Iran as well as suspected funding of international terrorism.
While sales aren’t necessarily likely to continue apace, especially given the UAE’s own ability to pump crude oil (and plenty of it), it’s the kind of economic man-bites-dog story that likely has Trump supporters celebrating.
After all, the Obama administration pretty much did everything to discourage the American oil industry from doing more drilling. Trump has been exactly the opposite.
Before he even took office, Trump announced that almost all offshore waters would be open for oil exploration. He also managed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for drilling as part of the tax bill, although delays are likely to be abundant. He also managed to win regulatory approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. He’s also helped undo Obama-era regulations on fracking
Obviously, Trump can’t exactly take credit for everything the oil industry has done over the past few decades to make it possible that America could actually export oil to the UAE. However, he is part of a growing consensus among both conservatives and oil industry experts that drilling, refining, and related processes can be done safely and with a minimal footprint.
As for the future, well, just look what he’s done so far. To that extent, he can take credit for a substantial energy turnaround — one that scarcely seemed imaginable when the intelligentsia were laughing Sarah Palin out of the room.
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