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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

HOUSTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a room full of energy executives last night that the U.S. oil-and-gas boom is a vital diplomatic and commercial tool in support of the country's foreign policy goals.

Why it matters: As Reuters and others pointed out, the speech was notable in its enlistment of the industry as an ally to advance U.S. geopolitical goals. It casts the U.S. rise into a petro-superpower as a check on Iran, Russia and elsewhere. He also talked up efforts to help allies develop their own resources.

Speaking at the big CERAWeek by IHS Markit event, Pompeo said...

"We're not just exporting American energy, we're exporting our commercial value system to our friends and to our partners."
"Our model matters now, frankly, more than ever in an era of great power rivalry and competition where some nations are using their energy for malign ends."

Our thought bubble: Pompeo's speech marks the Trump administration's dueling continuity and rupture with the Obama administration.

  • The idea of using U.S. LNG exports to weaken Russia's energy influence in Europe dates back to the Obama years.
  • The fracking-driven U.S. oil boom gave the Obama administration leeway to bring other countries on board with sanctions against Iran that helped lead to the Iran nuclear deal.

But for the Trump administration, that oil surge is a leverage point for a very different strategy of trying to isolate Iran with new sanctions now that the U.S. has walked away from the nuclear agreement.

  • "We'll continue with sanctions until Iran behaves in the way normal nations do, without threatening assassination campaigns in Europe, conducting terror campaigns throughout Syria and Iraq, without underwriting Hizballah," Pompeo said.

And the speech was also noteworthy for the absence of emphasis on climate change and the environment, in contrast to State's diplomatic push — especially with China — during the Obama years.

Go deeper:

  • Read the speech
  • Trump’s Secretary of State Wants Energy Companies to Help Spread U.S. Values (WSJ)

Go deeper

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Progressive legal advocacy group spinning off from sponsor

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A leading progressive legal advocacy group is spinning off from the sprawling dark money network that seeded it, the group tells Axios.

Why it matters: Demand Justice's decision to separate from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a "fiscal sponsor" for scores of largely left-wing organizations, will provide the public with its first detailed look behind the curtain of the influential progressive nonprofit.