Daines mug

America is in the midst of an energy revolution and Montana is well positioned to be a major player. That was the overwhelming consensus among Montana’s and the country’s energy thought leaders at my second Energy Summit in Billings this past week.

Unlike the previous administration, the Trump administration has pursued policies that support Western values and have shown they want to work with Montanans instead of put us out of work.

Since President Obama left the White House, 17 years of waiting for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline has finally come to an end. After a 40-year battle, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) will finally open for oil and gas exploration, creating opportunities for good-paying jobs and putting America further down the path toward energy independence and dominance.

And last May, during a visit to the Absaloka Coal mine outside of Hardin, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the war on coal is over.

Montana has immense oil and natural gas potential and we have more recoverable coal than any state in the union. Our plains can generate wind energy that helps create affordable, reliable, renewable energy for communities. We also have solar and biomass capabilities.

Making the most of Montana’s natural resources and renewable energy sources means more jobs and higher wages for Montanans, but it also means increased national security.

A nation that can feed and fuel itself is a much more secure nation. And when the U.S. feeds the world, and fuels the world, the world is more safe and secure.

We have seen in the headlines the role energy can play in confronting our adversaries.

In North Korea, it is sanctions on coal and oil that are helping us achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. In Iran, it is sanctions on oil.

But if we do not act now to realize our full energy capabilities, our foreign competitors will dominate the energy landscape and leave America and American workers on the sidelines.

Recently, China became the world’s largest oil importer, a position once held by the U.S. In the next 10-15 years, China is set to become the world’s largest oil consumer. Over the past 60 days I have visited China twice and have seen with my own two eyes both the great economic opportunity China offers as well as its threats to our prosperity and national security.

Energy provides us with opportunities to find peaceful solutions and meet our greatest challenges. This week in Billings, some of the brightest and most capable minds in energy discussed these opportunities and challenges and what role Montana will play in America’s energy future.

Montana’s all-of-the-above energy portfolio is enviable. We have a great opportunity to responsibly grow our production and to help meet domestic and global demand. Doing so means more Montana jobs, higher wages and a stronger local economy.

Reaching our full energy potential is what is right for Montana, and it is what is right for America.

Steve Daines represents Montana in the U.S. Senate.