The Decade We Won Our Energy Independence

As we usher in a new decade, I have been reflecting on certain moments in time that will be etched in the history of energy. I believe these past 10 years will prove to be one of the most momentous decades in the history of the United States.

One of the decade’s great moments came on December 18, 2015, when Congress finally ended the ban on U.S. oil exports. Its inclusion in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which also contained the budget for the coming year, forced President Obama to sign it even though he had threatened a veto.

The lifting of the export ban was a historic moment for our country — one that propelled energy’s future in America’s favor for the first time in decades. Today, over 3 million barrels a day are flowing from the U.S. to overseas customers. A bit of back-of-the-envelope math suggests that our balance of trade is billions of dollars to the positive since the export ban was lifted, making us even an even greater economic superpower as well. None of this would have been possible without the American energy miracle.

As a nation, we have moved away from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance. Foreign oil producers and dictatorial regimes had the edge in the past. Now, consumers in the U.S. are in control, thanks to our independent oil and gas producers.

Another one of those great moments came when the North Dakota Bakken Formation became the largest U.S. oil discovery ever. Thanks in large part to the ingenuity and innovation of a few of this country’s independent oil and gas producers, America has become an energy superpower.

I am proud of my own company’s growth over the decade and our part of that revolution. We found billions of barrels of oil and natural gas equivalents in the Bakken and in the original source fields of Oklahoma. Other independents have done the same from Texas to Pennsylvania. In its latest annual report, the independent energy research firm Rystad Energy reported that the U.S. currently holds more than 293 billion barrels of recoverable oil — 20 billion more than Saudi Arabia.

It was a tumultuous decade in energy. First, the Saudis tried to drown U.S. shale producers by increasing production. Next, we suffered several years of punitive regulations put in place by the Obama administration. Some in the administration said in their very own words that they wanted to “crucify” America’s oil and natural gas producers.

Then, on November 8, 2016, the American people elected President Trump, who unleashed the oil and gas industry to make American energy independence possible.

Another huge but mostly ignored outcome of our renaissance has been its hugely positive environmental effects. The U.S. is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions, by 14% since 2006, largely as a result of fracking and cheap, clean natural gas. We have dramatically decreased the particulate matter in the atmosphere over the past two decades as well. We can do more and will, but we have accomplished all this amid a growing economy that supports the needs of a growing population with a growing appetite for cheap, reliable energy. And this is true not just here but across the globe.

For many years, the American people were told we would run out of oil. I disagreed, predicting that the U.S. would become energy independent and a net exporter by 2020. That is coming to fruition.

We are about to wrap up another year. Another decade. America’s energy renaissance has only begun. A new era of oil is here, and I have never looked forward to the arrival of a new decade as I do today.

Harold Hamm is the Chairman & CEO of Continental Resources and Chairman of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance.