Since 1977, the mission of the Department of Energy has been American Energy Independence. America has finally reached that place, where it can sell energy to friends, versus buying it from enemies.
But that independence is imperiled.
First by a demand-crushing pandemic, which has reduced world consumption for oil and gas by 30 percent. And then by an international price war to wrest control of the world oil and gas market away.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette, who traveled to North Dakota on Tuesday to talk with industry leaders about the situations facing oil and gas and coal-fired electricity, said it was impossible to underestimate the importance of American energy, not just to national security, but to the economy.
"It's roughly 8 percent of GDP in America," he said Tuesday afternoon.
"Everything we do in America depends upon the provision of energy," he said. "The provision of electricity, the provision of refined products, that is what moves manufacturing. It is what moves every part of our economy."
Imagine, if you will, a rolling brownout in North Dakota for a moment, Brouillette suggested, and what that implies when it comes to national security.
"What happens if the lights go out at Minot Air Force base?" Brouillette asked. "What happens if the lights are out for a month, what happens if the lights are out for two weeks, or a week?"
That outage would affect not just an economy that is largely moved by energy, but it would lay bare the country's defenses as well.