0349 GMT January 24, 2019
"The United States has that ability, with our navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade ... to make sure that their energy does not go to market," Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said Friday at an industry event hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, Press TV reported.
Zinke underscored that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, along with the shale energy boom had put the US in an advantageous position over Russia, by making the country less dependent on foreign energy.
The administration of President Donald Trump has fiercely opposed energy projects by Russia, including the Nord Stream II pipeline to Germany, because it would give Moscow leverage over Europe. Trump has been pressuring European countries to purchase more US natural gas and reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
"President Trump has been clear: America has to be energy dominant," Zinke said. "We have relit the pilot light of American energy under this president. We are incorporating industry innovation, best science and best practices to improve reliability, safety and environmental stewardship. Our energy strategy is ‘all-of-the-above,’ leveraging every source of energy to take our nation forward. I am bullish about America’s energy future."
The secretary said he believed Russia had asserted itself more forcefully in the Middle East in an effort to control the energy market there.
"Russia is a one trick pony," Zinke said.
"I believe the reason they are in the Middle East is they want to broker energy just like they do in Eastern Europe, the southern belly of Europe."
On Iran, the official said, the Trump administration was following a similar strategy in order to squeeze the oil exporter out of the energy market.
"There is the military option, which I would rather not. And there is the economic option," he said. "The economic option on Iran and Russia is, more or less, leveraging and replacing fuels."
"We can do that because ... the United States is the largest producer of oil and gas," Zinke said.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, President Trump indicated that the US was ready to “export our abundant affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas."
The remarks came after OPEC countries and Russia ignored Trump’s call to bring down oil prices and increase their production to make up for the upcoming US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.