The world has changed dramatically from just a few years ago when Dan Brouillette, former secretary of energy, and Mike Pompeo, former secretary of state, “were literally thrown out of [European leaders’] offices.

“[I mean,] literally thrown out of their offices,” Brouillette, now president of Sempra Infrastructure, told University of Texas attendees at a Sept. 15 symposium hosted by UT’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Energy Center.

The U.S. Natural Gas Solution for a ‘More Dangerous’ World
Dan Brouillette (Source: Hart Energy)

The pair were informing European leaders that, “given the intelligence that we were seeing day in and day out, they had become too dependent upon Russian gas.”

The intelligence included what the two Cabinet officers were seeing in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior.

“No one wants to sit here five years [later] and say, ‘Hey, I told you so.’ That’s not the point of this conversation.”

But “the world has changed dramatically. I mean, I can't overstate how much it has changed.”

Today, Germany is building LNG regasification facilities, and “as we look down the road, that realism, that pragmatism, is going to continue.”

This includes a “rebalancing” between climate policy, energy security and national security policy. “That rebalancing is going to continue,” he said, “for the next 10 to 15 years because the world has become, candidly, a more dangerous place.”

Today, as Brouillette visits foreign leaders on behalf of Sempra to promote U.S. LNG, “I see folks are more realistic about what natural gas does and what the market does. It provides for, in the case of electricity generation … keeping the lights on.”

The U.S. oil and natural gas industry is also finding a new alliance with renewable and other energy developers, he said.

That relationship is built on the problem of permitting. “As they started to feel the pain of that permitting process, now there's a coalescing, a conflation, that's happening in Washington. These two sides are coming together and saying, ‘Hey, we have a problem. Nothing is getting built.’

“That's an overstatement,” he added. “But that's the argument they're making.

“And I think, as long as that continues to be the case, we'll start to see more and more bipartisan efforts to reduce the amount of permitting or at least change the types of permitting underway today.”

The most pressing issue: changing judicial review and reducing the amount of litigation.

If that can change, “we'll take a giant step forward to fix the problem.”

Brouillette quoted a fellow U.S. energy industry leader, who said, “At times, it takes longer to get the permit than it does to build the pipeline.”

Should that trend continue in the U.S., “we're going to be in a difficult situation here in, perhaps, the next decade.”

Energy policy shouldn’t be viewed “through the singular prism of climate policy,” he added. “That’s, in my view, the wrong approach.”

Energy policy is foundational in countries’ economies. “I mean, if you think about inflation and what's happened over the course of the last year or two, you can draw a pretty straight line to the price of [fuel].

“It is that foundational and that fundamental to every economy,” he said.

The alternative to coming together on energy, climate and economic policy is “the lights are going to go off.”

“That's the other challenge. I mean, you can jump intellectually to the possibility that you may have a 100% renewable world in which to operate, if you don't mind the lights going off in the interim.”