By Pete Olson
Now more than ever, energy plays a vital role in national security. Estimates indicate that in 2014, the terrorist regime, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was producing 50,000 oil barrels per day. In recent years, the US has made progress in targeting ISIS’ oil refineries and other energy capabilities, but more needs to be done. The Islamic State is still funding its war against America by bringing oil and gas onto the black market or using it at home to fuel its war machine. Their energy production not only funds crimes against humanity, but also forms the means by which would-be “states” like ISIS survive.
Stopping ISIS’ war funds is a critical way to stop their war crimes. Congress recently acted to block their funding from another revenue source: looted antiquities. We sent a bill to the president to prevent artifacts removed from Syria from being sold or imported into the U.S. This bill will deny funding to ISIS and discourage future looting and selling of antiquities.
Another important step to crippling ISIS’ funding is through their energy capabilities. Every dollar we can block from going into the pocket of ISIS blunts their agenda. That’s why I developed a strong bill with bipartisan support that acknowledges the role of energy policy in national security. My bill H.R. 4826, the Energy and American Security Act, engages the Department of Energy (DOE) and encourages them to work with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the State Department to refine American capabilities to hinder Islamic State oil production and continue to squeeze a main source of revenue for their terrorist activities.
Congress continues to use energy as a tool to increase our national security capabilities. Last year we voted to lift the decades old ban on the export of US crude oil that was developed in an era when OPEC had a great amount of control over the world’s energy supply. Today, the US is the number one producer of oil and natural gas. By lifting the ban, we give our global allies trusted source of energy and shift dependence away from unstable and unreliable countries like Russia and Iran. This is a great first step that must be accompanied by efforts to blunt ISIS’ energy funding. While we can, and have, made strategic strikes on their energy infrastructure, we must stop equipment, materials and know-how from entering the region in the first place. The State Department and DOD have begun this work and my bill reinforces these efforts and takes this effort one step further.
Working to hinder and ultimately destroy the development, transportation, and sale of ISIS energy resources is a key priority and all Agencies with the expertise should participate. Under my bill, DOE energy experts are encouraged to provide critical guidance to DOD as they work to stop these terrorists by cutting off ISIS energy assets and critical funding.
Peter "Pete" Olson (R) is the U.S. Representative for Texas's 22nd congressional district, serving since 2009.