Energy Secretary: Oil boom won’t fuel isolationism

Here’s something rising alongside U.S. oil-and-gas production: Assurances from top U.S. officials that the country won’t abandon its diplomatic and security engagement with the Middle East.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in an interview with the Financial Times (sub. req'd), is the latest senior Obama administration official to make the case.

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“This is not like we somehow draw back behind a curtain,” he told the paper, which reports that Moniz “played down” the idea that the U.S. could disengage from the Middle East.

“We are in a very good energy situation compared to what was expected a decade ago, but we will not be independent of world energy markets,” he said.

His comments arrive on the heels of new data and forecasts that illustrate the seismic shift in the U.S. energy landscape in recent years.

The federal Energy Information Administration reported last week that the U.S. apparently produced more oil in October than it imported for the first time since 1995.

The International Energy Agency, meanwhile, predicted last week that the U.S. will become the world’s largest oil producer in 2015 and that North America’s need for crude imports “all but disappears” by 2035.

But even before those reports, top U.S. officials were offering reassurances similar to Moniz’s comments.

“Reduced energy imports do not mean the United States can or should disengage from the Middle East or the world,” then-National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said in April.

And Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy for international energy affairs, said that security of oil transit lanes remains a priority even as U.S. imports keep falling.

“These changes in no way change the U.S. commitment to global security, to peace and stability in the Middle East, and to security in transit lanes,” he said at a major energy conference in Houston in March.