The next time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits President Putin in the Kremlin, he should ask his former buddy something that's bothered me for years: what are the Russians up to in attempting to sabotage our energy industry?
First, let's understand that energy has always been used as a political tool, even by Washington. During the mid-1980s, at the request of President Reagan, the Saudis ramped up their oil production to over 10 million barrels per day, causing the price to crash to below $10. The singular goal was to wreck the already tottering Soviet economy, which has always been dependent on oil revenues.
Reagan's plan worked as the Evil Empire did indeed implode, the result being that it could no longer subsidize the energy needs of its satellite states. Of course, it also crushed our domestic industry, destabilized the energy-producing states, and led to the banking crises of the late 1980s that began in Texas and spread nationwide.
My involvement with the energy industry began in 1990 and I watched another nasty cycle cripple the domestic industry later in the decade. By then I decided OPEC was trying to kill off our industry by financially backing anti-fossil fuel organizations.
But let's talk about now. A recent article in Newsweek headlined, Intelligence: Putin is Funding the Anti-Fracking Campaign, stated that "Recent intelligence reports show that Russia is interested in influencing more than just America's elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies have taken aim at undermining the U.S. energy industry as well."
The article said that within the U.S. intelligence community's report describing Russian activities in the 2016 presidential election, there is "clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States." By targeting fracking, Putin hopes to increase oil and gas prices, destabilize the U.S. economy and threaten America's energy independence, Johnson writes.
Fracking has led to one of the great economic and industrial revolutions in recent history, and as Johnson notes, generates a half-trillion dollars in economic benefit to the U.S. annually with its support of 4.3 million jobs. In fact, by 2020, the U.S. is on track to produce over 1.5 billion barrels of oil annually, over half of the total U.S. output.
The result has reduced America's imports and cost OPEC and Russia their once-enormous clout on the world market. The Russians are just as...