WASHINGTON – With U.S. exports of oil and natural gas surging, President Donald Trump says the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas and other resources.
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The White House is launching its "energy week" with a series of events focused on jobs and boosting U.S. global influence. The events follow similar policy-themed weeks on infrastructure and jobs.
The previous weeks were largely overshadowed by ongoing probes into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, as well as scrutiny over Trump's firing of James Comey as FBI director. Drawing fresh attention now is the Republican bid to scuttle the health care law despite a rebellion within Senate GOP ranks.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday the Trump administration is confident officials can "pave the path toward U.S. energy dominance" by exporting oil, gas and coal to markets around the world, and promoting nuclear energy and even renewables such as wind and solar power.
"For years, Washington stood in the way of our energy dominance. That changes now," Perry told reporters at the White House. "We are now looking to help, not hinder, energy producers and job creators."
The focus on energy began at a meeting between Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with U.S. natural gas exports part of the discussion. Trump is expected to talk energy Wednesday with governors and tribal leaders, and he will deliver a speech Thursday at the Energy Department.
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Trump has long used "dominance" to describe his approach to energy, and Perry and other administration officials have begun echoing the phrase as a short-hand for policies that "unleash" unfettered energy production on U.S. land and waters. Similarly, during his administration President Barack Obama spoke about an "all of the above" energy policy intended to reassure skeptics that he supported a wide range of U.S. energy production.
Trump signed an executive order in April to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, reversing restrictions imposed by Obama. Trump has also pushed to revive U.S. coal production after years of decline. Coal mining rose by 19 percent in the first five months of the year as the price of natural gas edged up, according to Energy Department data.
U.S. oil and gas production have boomed in recent years, primarily because of improved drilling techniques such as fracking that have opened up production in areas previously out of reach of drillers.
Obama signed a law in December 2015 lifting a decades-old ban on most crude oil exports, resulting in millions of barrels of exports every month to China, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries. The U.S. began exporting liquefied natural gas to India, China, Brazil and other countries in February 2016.
Earlier this month, a U.S. tanker sent liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Poland, the first delivery of U.S. gas to eastern or northern Europe.
Despite Trump's withdrawal from the global Paris climate accord, Perry said the U.S. remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
"Instead of preaching about clean energy, this administration will act upon it," Perry said, calling nuclear power a key element to fight climate change.
Perry, a former Texas governor, said he strongly supported wind power in his state, but he hedged when asked whether he supports extension of a production tax credit for wind.
"I don't think the administration is going to be wildly supportive of government subsidies for sectors of the energy industry," he said.