Remarks by Secretary Brouillette
Energy Security in an Insecure World
IEA Big Ideas Conference
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Thank you, Fatih, for that introduction.
I am grateful to be joining you and everyone else who is here today in a virtual capacity.
Fatih, when we last met in March, I don’t think either of us realized it was going to be the last of international travel for quite some time.
By any measure, we are going through incredibly challenging times.
The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and well-being of our citizens and presented unprecedented challenges to our economies.
Clearly, we’ve seen dramatic economic contraction and a huge decline in global energy demand.
This decline led to a huge rise in energy supply, which was exacerbated by the collapse of OPEC-Plus negotiations in early March.
This lethal combination led to a shockingly rapid collapse in global oil prices.
According to the IEA, we are also witnessing the largest drop ever in energy investment, more than 20 percent in 2020 — or a reduction of $400 billion — with the oil and gas sector falling by fully one-third.
Make no mistake:
Today’s crisis is global; it transcends any one nation; and it requires a swift and decisive response from us all.
So what has the United States been doing to meet the crisis?
We’ve been “all-hands-on-deck” against the coronavirus, with our National Laboratories, for example, working day and night to find a more effective treatment or vaccine.
And President Trump has met the oil oversupply issue head on — by facilitating a historic agreement between the Saudis and the Russians.
Under this agreement, global oil production has been reduced and markets made more stable.
In addition, we’re working to negotiate contracts with domestic producers to store their crude oil in our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Last month, we awarded 23.2 million barrels of storage capacity and as of June 9th, roughly 69 percent of that oil had been delivered to the SPR, and we’re anticipating further deliveries through next month as well – including by our friends in Australia following our first-of-its-kind agreement with them last week.
And under the President’s leadership, we are carefully and responsibly opening our economy.
Thanks to these actions, oil demand is rising, oil prices have stabilized, and we are already seeing potential signs of a powerful economic comeback for the United States and the world.
And that leads me to my central question for today.
Working together, what should our energy policies be?
I think we can agree on our ideal energy goals.
Ideally, we all want energy prices to be stable enough for producers and affordable enough for consumers.
Ideally, we all want energy supply to be abundant enough to avoid shortages and diverse enough to meet the full range of our needs.
Ideally, we all want energy production to be done in a way that protects our environment.
And ideally, we all want the electricity we generate to be delivered as reliably as we can.
Now when we consider all of these aims, the problem is obvious:
How do we meet all of them at once?
Many people believe we can’t – but I believe we can.
It certainly won’t be easy, but before the coronavirus arrived, one thing was clear:
The United States was making tremendous strides in that direction.
Indeed, in an incredibly short period of time, the United States became a nation that produced an astonishing range of energy sources as abundantly and affordably, and as cleanly and reliably, as any country in the world.
We became the world’s number one producer of oil and gas, its number two generator of wind and solar power, and its unmistakable leader in reducing energy-related carbon emissions.
How did we do it?
We did it by following what I will call the American energy model.
The focus of our model is the well-being and security of our people, and we advance that goal through the objectives of economic growth, energy security, and environmental improvement.
For economic growth, we rely on free market principles — on open, transparent markets grounded in rule of law, where contracts are honored and where energy technologies compete on a level playing field.
And we rely strongly on deregulation which unleashes innovation.
None of our progress could have happened without innovation.
Thanks to innovation, we’re generating record amounts of zero-emissions renewables and are poised to advance emissions-free nuclear technologies like small modular reactors and microreactors.
And thanks to innovation, we are poised to make our fossil fuels cleaner through carbon capture, utilization, and storage and revolutionary coal plant designs.
For energy security, our focus is on reliability and resiliency, as well as on diversity.
At stake is literally everything in our society which depends on the reliable flow of electricity and the fuel mix needed to ensure it.
That is precisely why we are working with the private sector to deal with cyberattacks on our grid.
It is exactly why we seek to build more energy infrastructure, and through the President’s Bulk Power initiative, why we aim to secure the supply chain for its components.
And it is why we aim to revitalize the most reliable form of energy — by implementing the recommendations of the President’s report on Restoring America's Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage.
For environmental improvement, we believe in bottom-up agility rather than top-down dictates.
Some people argue the opposite.
They insist that government knows best and should favor some companies through subsidies while penalizing others through taxation and regulation.
But we believe the market knows best and proceed accordingly, by making regulations the rules of the road rather than barriers blocking the road to innovation and progress.
We believe this approach is exactly what has made us an economic leader, an energy leader, and an environmental leader.
Just months ago, before the virus reached U.S. shores, this American energy model was working wonders, benefitting not just Americans, but men, women, and children across the globe.
I believe that by reaffirming that model, we can and we will see progress return.
But I also believe something else.
I believe that as we work together, we will do even better.
So as I conclude, let me make a pledge to all of you today.
We will work side by side with our friends, our allies, and our co-laborers on the road to recovery and progress — and we will do it every step of the way.
We will work with the G20.
We will work with Dr. Birol and the IEA.
We will work with like-minded countries.
And together, we will all prevail.
Yes, these are hard times, yes, these are heartbreaking times — but as we rise up together, I am confident we will emerge from this crisis stronger, healthier, and more secure than before.