WASHINGTON – Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thursday that U.S. oil and gas exports benefit U.S. economic and foreign policy objectives and criticized efforts by Democrats to restrict oil and gas production and exports.

Cornyn, speaking at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that exporting oil and natural gas to Europe should help to make them less dependent on Russia and Iran for their energy needs, which would be a significant strategic achievement for the U.S.

Crude oil exports from the U.S. were banned in 1975, in response to the oil crisis, to conserve American oil and promote domestic production of oil, but the ban was repealed in 2015. Since 2015, U.S. crude oil exports, as well as natural gas exports, have increased, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration). Oil and natural gas production in the U.S. increased significantly from 2017 to 2018, according to the Department of Energy.

Several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have called for a ban on U.S. crude oil exports.

“We must no longer export any fossil fuels,” Sanders’ campaign website states. “Our coal and natural gas are contributing to increased emissions abroad… We can meet our energy needs and ensure energy security and independence without these imports.”

However, Dr. Scott W. Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, said that it was not realistic to ban fossil fuels, as the developing world is relying on fossil fuels to develop and renewable energy sources on their own cannot meet the world’s energy needs. Tinker also said that renewable energies sources have environmental impacts that are often understated.

Cornyn said banning U.S. exports would is not in the best interest of America’s foreign policy objectives. Instead, the U.S. needs to take a constructive, not ideological approach to protecting the environment, he said. Cornyn also criticized the Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal as expensive and unrealistic, and said it would threaten global energy security.

The U.S. has increased natural gas imports to the EU, according to the EIA, and the Trump administration wants the EU to continue to buy natural gas from the U.S. It is more expensive for EU nations to buy from the U.S. since natural gas needs to be liquefied to be shipped overseas. However, Russia is also trying to increase its energy exports to Europe. On Oct. 30, despite U.S. opposition, Denmark gave permission for Russia to build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would provide Russian natural gas to Germany.

The U.S. is not only trying to export natural gas to Europe. In September, a $7.5 billion agreement was signed in Houston to export natural gas to India, which Cornyn praised.

“The oil and gas industry have been a boon to our economy, supporting more than 10 million jobs here at home,” Cornyn said.

He also said that the U.S. should ensure the U.S. is a leader in renewable energies, noting that Texas is the top producer of electricity from wind energy among all states. Cornyn also voiced support for nuclear energy, and said, “We truly believe in an all of the above energy policy.”