ENB #109 Congressman Martin Frost stops by, and we talk about energy and bipartisan solutions for energy.
Congressman Frost served 26 years as a Congressman from the 24th District of Texas (Dallas-Ft. Worth) from 1979 to 2005 as a Democrat. He serves as Secretary and Director for the Council for a Secure America.
I truly enjoyed this interview as Congressman Frost has a bipartisan approach to energy and is not a typical politician. – The United States needs more independent thinkers looking out for the future of our country. Thank you for stopping by the ENB podcast – Stu.
Video Transcription edited for grammar. We disavow any errors unless they make us look better or smarter.
Stuart Turley [00:00:06] Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Energy News Beat Podcast today. I’ve got a really, really special guest today. My name’s Stu Turley, President and CEO of the Sandstone Group. And I have an absolutely phenomenal guest today. I have Congressman Martin Frost, and he has served 26 years as a congressman in the 24th District of Dallas, as a Democrat from 1979 to 2005. And he now serves as the secretary and director for the Council for a Secure America. Congressman Frost, thank you so much for stopping by. This is so cool.
Martin Frost [00:00:48] My pleasure.
Stuart Turley [00:00:49] I’ll tell you, I had so much fun getting to do a little research on you. And I watched some of your interviews in the past. And just to get everybody a nice heads up. You’re a cool cat under pressure. When when you had some of your comments in there and everything, I got really tickled because you just took it with like, we’re going to have a little more fun than you had on some of your other interviews.
Martin Frost [00:01:13] Okay, good.
Stuart Turley [00:01:14] And so as a congressman, we want to know, Congressman in Texas, what were some of your highlights and what did you really like about being a congressman in Texas?
Martin Frost [00:01:26] Well, I was elected in 1978 and served until 2005, and it was 26 years. And I had the chance to occupy some leadership positions for the Democratic Party now. I’m a moderate Democrat. I’m more conservative than some of the folks from other parts of the country. But I was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for two terms, 1996 and 1998, and I was chairman of the Democratic caucus for four years after that. So it was an interesting time. Texas has undergone a great deal of political change, of course, and it’s become much more Republican. The Dallas-Fort Worth area, though, has remained particularly Dallas has remained pretty Democratic. And it’s funny the way things work. I grew up in Texas. I grew up in Fort Worth. My family was active in Texas politics many years ago. My great uncle was a member of the Texas State Senate from 1903 to 1911, and my grandfather was mayor of Henderson, a small town out in East Texas. My mother’s family was from East Texas, and my father’s family was from San Antonio, where my father, my grandfather was a very successful businessman in San Antonio. So I know I’m one of the few at the time that I was in Congress. Almost all the Texas congressmen had gone to college, university in the state of Texas. I went to university in Missouri because I was interested in journalism. In fact, I started off as a reporter, and at that time, the top journalism schools in the country were northwestern Columbia and Missouri. Missouri was the closest and the cheapest, and they all worked out fine. And I worked as a reporter in Washington for several years covering Congress and decided I really had always been interested in politics. And I met a bunch of congressmen and I said, Well, these guys are not so special. I think I could do that job. So I decided to go to law school, went to Georgetown, went back to Texas, clerked for a federal judge. And eight years after I returned to Texas, I was elected to Congress. And it was an interesting run. It was an interesting run. That’s all I could say. And I was very much pro national defense. There were a lot of the defense industries in the Dallas Fort Worth area about helicopter LTV, Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin made the F-16. And so I had a lot of defense workers in my district, and I had kind of a mixed district. I had a number of Hispanics, a number of African-Americans, a lot of blue collar whites. And so it was it was an interesting time. And I also and then I will get to the energy subject in a minute. But when I give speeches to members of Congress and to students, I also say that people who are elected to Congress wind up getting involved in things, but they had no idea they were going to do when they first ran. And a good example was that there was a notorious incident in my district in which a little nine year old girl in Arlington, Texas, was kidnaped, molested and murdered. And I went out and talked to the parents and the neighbors in a blue collar neighborhood. And I said, Congressman, what can I do to help? And they said, Well, Congressman, you go back to Washington, try and make sure that doesn’t happen to any other children. And so I was the House sponsor of the Amber Alert and the little girl’s name was Amber. And this was something put together by the law enforcement and the media in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to get the word out when someone was kidnaped. I had no idea when I ran for Congress I was going to be involved in that. But as it turned out, people cared about that and became something I cared about. Also, one other example of wow, when the when I was in Congress, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and I was part of the first delegation, congressional delegation to go to Berlin. And we talked to the East Germans and these four letters. And again, as we do, Congressman, what can we do to help? Congressman, you go back to Washington. And put together some lessons in democracy for us. So I talked to Tom Foley, who was a speaker, and he asked me to head a special task force to help the parliaments of the Eastern and Central Europe, which I did for five years. That was kind of in addition to my day job, and it was very interesting. I never had any idea that I would be doing that. But we did work in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and a couple of other countries. And one of the most interesting things you could ever do. We conducted classes for new members of Congress and the congressional staff on how to how parliament works. And we helped build up parliamentary libraries and research institutes. And so, as I said, congressmen, some congressmen have a very clear idea what they’re going to do once they get there. I knew I wanted to be helpful to the people of Texas and the people that I represented. And I knew that national defense was certainly an important issue, but I had no idea that I was going to be involved in those other issues. And it was very satisfying.
Stuart Turley [00:05:53] You know, Congressman, I you’ve sold me on. I’m here. How can I help? You don’t hear that from politicians very often anymore. So you should.
Martin Frost [00:06:05] You should.
Stuart Turley [00:06:05] We should. But you. I just loved your pedigree when I was reading through everything but that Amber Alert and everything else is huge now.
Martin Frost [00:06:15] Well, you know, it was you do you do the job you were elected to do and you did. You listened to the people that elected you. And sometimes they have issues that are very important. I’ll give you one other example. I was in my office one day and a group of parents came by to see me and they wanted to talk about childhood diseases and particularly that affected very young children, diabetes. And so I got active in that and something I really hadn’t thought much about it, but the parents made such an impression on me that it was something I worked on while I was in Congress.
Stuart Turley [00:06:49] Nice. Now, you had mentioned being a congressman from Texas and that your your passion. You have two passions with your new position as the secretary of the council.
Martin Frost [00:07:03] First here, America.
Stuart Turley [00:07:04] Thank you. I’m just testing you and and your your new position there is when you’re taking a look at energy security, I’d like to make sure we talk about both of those things, because energy security for the U.S. is being overlooked. Tell us what your thoughts were and what you think we’re doing now.
Martin Frost [00:07:25] Well, there were a group of independent oil and gas producers who not talking about the big companies, but independents who are very important in the industry, who put together an organization that I was involved in to help increase domestic production. And this is at a time where we were importing a fair amount of oil from around the world, particularly from some countries that are not particularly friendly toward us and have proved not to be very reliable allies, if you want the truth and so forth.
Stuart Turley [00:07:55] Sorry, Congressman, what year were those?
Martin Frost [00:07:57] Oh, this was this was in that first of all, it was during the eighties, and then we revived it about ten or 12 years ago. And Saudi Arabia is not a very reliable ally of the United States. And we were importing a lot of oil from them and as well as some other places. And the people who put this together had some objectives. One, they wanted to do everything they could to increase domestic production so that we would be less dependent upon unreliable sources from around the world. As it turned out, one of the pioneers in this field was Harold Hamm from the state of Oklahoma, who developed the Bakken field in North Dakota, and he used hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and produced oil and gas, but primarily oil out of some shale field shale rock that people didn’t think he could produce economically. And he showed that you could do that. And so he was one of the inspirations for putting together the Council for a Secure America. And so we wanted to do everything we can could to make sure that we continue to encourage domestic production. There are some people who, particularly in the environmental community, who are not big fans of oil and gas, but, you know, you can have both. And and certainly oil and gas is a bridge fuel for a number of years while we develop some of these other alternatives. And you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You can’t say, oh, well, we’re just going to shut down oil and gas, not drill anymore and just go to entirely to alternatives. So we’ve emphasized that you have to do both. And it’s very important domestically for the U.S. not to be dependent upon imports from unreliable sources. And secondly, in recent years, it’s become very important in terms of our foreign policy, because, look what the Russians have done to use weapons, energy as a weapon in their attack on Ukraine and their efforts to destabilize some of our Western European allies. And so our organization is believes that you can do both and that it’s very important for. US as a country, and it has been very important for us as a country to the to continue to produce here in the United States and then to help get to the point where we actually can export some natural gas and perhaps even some fuel oil to mount some some oil that’s not the fuel oil, not the refined product, but the product before it’s refined. And so we’ve emphasized that. And and this was this was a coalition of people from the from the southwest Texas and Oklahoma primarily who are interested in increasing domestic production and also some key people in the Jewish community in the Northeast who are very concerned about threats to the state of Israel, and particularly because of the threats from some countries in their own region, and that it was important that we continue to be able to support democracy of Israel just as we are supporting democracy in Ukraine. You know, it’s two sides, the same basic issue. And this is kind of a personal issue for me and that my wife’s family is from Ukraine. Now. They’ve been in United States for a long time. They’ve been in the United States over 100 years. But certainly our use of energy, particularly natural gas, to counteract the Russians and to be able to shore up democracy right now in Ukraine and certainly to be able to shore up our our friend Israel against from attack. So this has been an interesting organization to be involved in. You have a variety of people who are doing this for the right reason, quite frankly. Some of them are actually in the oil and gas business, but others are not. They just believe it’s important for us as a country to be as energy self-sufficient as we can and to also counteract what the Russians are doing. I have no use for the Russians, quite frankly. That’s all I can say. And they are their main characters and they they’ve been using energy as a weapon against democracy. And here we have a chance, both by increasing our own domestic production and by reaching out to some of our traditional allies to help them through the winter in a very difficult time for them. So energy is important for our people at home, and it’s also important for us as a nation who believes in democracy.
Stuart Turley [00:12:08] You know, the one of the things Israel is very, very important to the world. It’s an important partner for the U.S. and they have some huge natural gas plays out there.
Martin Frost [00:12:21] And they feel that in the Mediterranean. Yes. Yes. And that and that’s something that we are encouraging and trying to help them produce and make that available to to some of our friends in Western Europe.
Stuart Turley [00:12:35] Oh, absolutely. And some of the things that I find so critical about our relationship with Israel was the things that were started under Trump with the Abraham Accords. Accords. Thank you. The Abraham Accords, and then were followed up under the Biden administration. Can you tell us your thoughts on the Abraham Accords?
Martin Frost [00:12:55] Well, it makes very good sense for I think we’re losing them. They have a call coming in. We’ll just have to wait til that goes away. But it’s it’s very important because we we it’s important for Israel to make that have to resume normal diplomatic relations with some of their Arab neighbors. And to and that’s and this is another thing that’s been encouraged by the United States. We also we want there to be a two state solution. Ultimately, we want the Palestine Estonians to have a state of their own as long as it doesn’t threaten Israel. But shoring up Israel’s diplomatic and economic position and dealing with some of the other countries in the Middle East who have not historically been friends is very important, is one of the most important things the United States can do right now and to bring stability in that part of the world. And so this was started during the Trump administration has been continued during the Biden administration.
Stuart Turley [00:13:47] With our current administration right now. I mean, they have a self-proclaimed war on on the U.S. energy market, you know, by President Biden discounting the or canceling the Keystone on day one. Is there anything we can do or you can do, Congressman, for us to help try to curb that?
Martin Frost [00:14:07] Well, there are a number of us in the Democratic Party who believe that it is in our interest to continue to develop energy of all kinds. And Keystone pipeline was one issue. But there are a lot of other issues, too, in terms of permitting of pipelines here in the United States, also the being able to export crude oil. And the Biden administration has taken efforts to to approve the construction of a lot of facilities along the Gulf Coast, which are just designed to export crude oil to the rest of the world, and then also being able to send liquefied natural gas there. This is not a one party issue. There are a number of people in my party who believe in energy as important for our own consumption and important for our position of the rest of the world. And that’s why a number of us are. Speaking out and urging the administration to continue to to emphasize both. Let’s let’s develop alternatives. Let’s do wind and solar and everything else we can do, but let’s continue to develop our own natural gas and oil reserves, not just some of the folks on the other side would say, no, just leave it in the ground. Don’t bring it out. Well, that’s crazy, quite frankly. Why would we do that when it’s such an important tool for us in helping shore up democracies around the world? So this is it’s something that we’re continuing to do on a bipartisan basis, because there are people a number of people in my party who understand this and who think that this is in America’s interest to want to be supportive of Israel and to develop as much of our resources as possible so that we can counteract authoritarian governments around the world like Russia, who are trying to cause trouble.
Stuart Turley [00:15:53] Oh, absolutely. And Putin is not a good, good guy.
Martin Frost [00:15:59] No, he’s not.
Stuart Turley [00:16:00] He’s he’s not in those contracts that the E.U. signed with him. They did not have long term contracts. And that was one of the biggest problems, why he was able to weaponize the natural gas. And and if we took advantage, like you said, Congressman Frost, of a bipartisan approach. I sure would like to see some pipelines go from Pennsylvania to New York and then and that other area, because right now their grid is going to fail because they can’t get any natural gas up there.
Martin Frost [00:16:39] Well, also, there is in some parts of the country, there’s been opposition to hydraulic fracturing, which is it has to be done safely. We want it to be done on an environmental basis. But some people are just blindly opposed to it as a general principle, and that makes no sense at all. I mean, this is technology that permits us to to produce oil and gas from difficult areas where it had not been economically possible to do so in the past. So it’s not just the question which one, it’s pipelines and it’s to using the technology that we have now to make sure that we can produce in significant amounts the oil and the oil and gas that’s in the ground. And some of it’s in the northeast. It’s not just in Texas and Oklahoma. There are a lot of possibilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania and some of the northeastern states as long as you use technology.
Stuart Turley [00:17:28] I like the way you think, Congressman. Are you going to run for president?
Martin Frost [00:17:32] No, no, no, no. I’ve I’ve taken that chair. I’m 26 years in Congress was a long time. It was interesting and I loved it. But, you know, let’s get some younger people involved then. I’m not speaking against Biden. I mean, we’ll see how Biden does. He may well, he’s 80 years old. He may well be able to be reelected. But we need as our party and the Republicans do need to bring some younger people into politics. And that’s one of the things that’s one of the things that we’ve been working on, is trying to encourage younger people to understand these issues and to be politically active.
Stuart Turley [00:18:05] How young was JFK? Because I, like, you know, like.
Martin Frost [00:18:07] 43 is like 43, something like that.
Stuart Turley [00:18:10] 43.
Martin Frost [00:18:11] Yeah, He was he was young. Teddy Roosevelt was young and Obama was young. Those were, I believe, the three youngest presidents we’ve had. And, you know, it’s yeah, it is. It’s a tough job, quite frankly. And I don’t envy anyone who holds that job or who wants to hold it, because it is very hard. You’ve got to have a lot of energy. You’ve got to have good people around you. And, you know, this is not you don’t say this on a partizan basis. I worked with I served with Ronald Reagan the entire time he was president. And one of the things that that helped Reagan was that he had excellent staff. He had really good people around him. The same thing with President Carter, you know, two of the young people in the Carter administration, Stu Eizenstat and David Rubenstein, they were young men in the White House working on domestic policy when Carter was president. We need to find the brightest young people we can and get them in politics early so that they decide this is a worthwhile career and that so some of them can someday be elected office.
Stuart Turley [00:19:10] That’s pretty cool. I got nothing to argue on that one. And so what are some of the things that the regular, let’s say, any of our podcast listeners are hearing you, Congressman Frost, what are your next steps and what should they do? Well, they should try to get the price of energy. What should people do?
Martin Frost [00:19:32] Well, they should encourage their House members and their Senate members to take a proactive position on energy. And, you know, it’s a lot of our current politicians did not grow up in areas where energy was produced. And then and they did. We tried to explain to current officeholders how very important energy is for our own domestic industry as well as for our position in the world. So to the extent that. They can talk to their current members of Congress and members of the Senate. That’s very important. And I urge I when I was chairman of the campaign committee, I used to urge people to go to take part in politics, go to town hall meetings, go to public meetings. If your local, local congressman is in a speak to the Rotary Club. Go to there. Go there. And don’t make any assumptions that people are all one way or the other. There are a lot of people who are pro oil and gas and also who are very supportive of our capitalist system, who believe in business and the importance of creating jobs in both parties. That’s not just the function of one party. And I’m I will tell you, I’m concerned that some of the new people in the Republican Party want to cut defense spending and they want to cut aid to Ukraine. That doesn’t make any sense to me. And I don’t. And if you have a congressman who’s taking that position, I would hope you go to some public meetings and ask it. Why do you want to do that? Why do that in the United States interest to cut defense spending? Because some of these more radical Republicans want to cut defense. And they also want to they say they want to cut our assistance to Ukraine. So this is not just an issue in one party or the other. You have extremes in both parties and we need to talk to them and make sure they understand that that’s not in the good and that’s not good for our country.
Stuart Turley [00:21:17] Well, there’s a couple things. I agree with everything you said, but I would like to visit with some folks and get accountability for the money that is going over there. I don’t want to cut the money, but I’d like to know where it’s going, because there is I.
Martin Frost [00:21:31] Think that’s not known. I think that’s very legitimate. And in fact, we had problems, you may recall, once we toppled Saddam Hussein and stayed in Iraq and a lot of that money was wasted. Right. And so we want to make sure that it’s spent well, I’m for I’m for us getting our money’s worth, but I’m also not for us walking away here. You know, I think this is too important. We stand for democracy and people in both parties support democracy. And there’s no problem with asking questions. Okay, Tell us what we’re getting for our money. I hope people will do that. But don’t just blindly say, oh, well, we’ve got this big deficit deficit and we have spending all this money on defense that we have to cut. That doesn’t make any sense.
Stuart Turley [00:22:10] Well, you can’t rob the defense budget to solve all the social problems. And that is what’s been done by both parties as well, too. And you sit back. We need to be able to defend ourselves. But, Congressman, let me ask this, because we need to be able to defend ourselves. But should we quit being the police force for the rest of the world and still try to help them defend themselves? I mean, that’s a balance. I don’t know.
Martin Frost [00:22:38] How it is a balance. You know, what’s happened in the last several administrations is that presidents of both parties have said we’re not going to send American troops on this mission, but we will provide technology. We will provide weapons systems to help you defend yourselves. And that’s what we ought to do as a very little support right now in the United States for sending the Army or the Marines or the Air Force and to some of these countries right now. Let’s let’s give that let’s give these countries, our friends, the weaponry they need to train them. Let’s provide everything we can so they can defend themselves. But we’re not going to be sending American soldiers, I don’t believe, into a lot of these kind of battles these days. That’s not that. That’s not where our country is. But that doesn’t mean we’re have to be isolationists. It doesn’t mean that we don’t provide them the wherewithal, the material and the weapons so that our friends can help themselves. And that’s what we’re.
Stuart Turley [00:23:33] Talking I’m I’m leaning a little more. Not to an isolation. Isolation when I am in Oklahoma, so I can’t speak very well going around. We can’t afford a lot of that because of the way the economic situation is going on. We can’t continue to print money.
Martin Frost [00:23:51] Well, the American public doesn’t want to see our own people going over and being involved in some of these wars. But I don’t think the public is opposed to us providing weapons systems and providing help and training. And that’s what we ought to be doing. And I hope that we are starting to train Ukrainian pilots on how to how to fly the F 1616 made in Fort Worth, Texas, in my old district. And it’s a great plane.
Stuart Turley [00:24:19] And it’s a great thing.
Martin Frost [00:24:21] But they do need training, quite frankly. And I have I’ve had a lot of family in Oklahoma over the years. My my mother’s brother worked for Phillips Petroleum in Bartlesville and for a mint for many years. And it is his sons. My first cousins went to school in Oklahoma. One day Oklahoma State went to university. And so now I’m not I’m not for Oklahoma and football season. You understand that.
Stuart Turley [00:24:47] Either. Neither am I. I went to the other school, Oklahoma State.
Martin Frost [00:24:52] When when I was when I was growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, the. University of Oklahoma Sooners recruited heavily in Texas. That’s where most of their really good football players came. Right. And my one of my classmates did this in high school in Fort Worth, Texas, wound up being a star halfback for Oklahoma. Its name was Joe Don Looney. He was a great runner, but he was a little crazy. And he had some problems. But he was a terrific athlete and some of the best some of Oklahoma’s best athletes, best football players over the years have come from Texas.
Stuart Turley [00:25:27] Absolutely. There is no question they feed them big here in Texas anyway. I’ve got license plates now on my cars from Texas, so I have a place up here. But I’m a Texan again right now.
Martin Frost [00:25:39] Well, so long as you spend one day, more than than half the year in Texas, you don’t have to pay state income tax.
Stuart Turley [00:25:47] Well, I got a plate license plates. I got one question for you. Also close up here. What is your real view of the Council for a Secure America? Because our relationship with Israel is critical. Right. When you marry that with the Secure America, what do you see coming around the corner that you see?
Martin Frost [00:26:08] Well, we’re doing our best to involve a lot of key people in industry and not just the oil and gas industry, but key people in our in our economic fabric of our country and among both Democrats and Republicans to speak out on these issues. And we’ve been fairly successful. We’re going to continue doing that. We have and we have some state associations, as can people who may not realize this, but the state of Kansas produces a lot of oil. The small wells. But the Kiowa, the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, is very active in our organization, as are some of the other state organizations. And Arkansas, of course, is a very important energy state. So it’s we’re trying to involve and broadly as many people as we can, both in the business community and in the community in both parties, to make sure that everyone understands how important this asset of ours is and how important it is to us. As I said, is it for our economy, our domestic economy, and how important it is for us in terms of our foreign policy. And the Russians are perfectly willing and able to weaponize energy, and we can’t let them get away with that.
Stuart Turley [00:27:16] Man, I just really appreciate your time, Congressman.
Martin Frost [00:27:20] My my pleasure.
Stuart Turley [00:27:22] Hey, And we’ll put all of the information in the show notes. And I want to just again, thank you for your service.
Martin Frost [00:27:28] So my pleasure. Thank you. It was an interesting job. I will tell you that I’m I’m just perfectly satisfied I’m not there anymore in Congress because it would be a very difficult time to try and get anything done. But I did was I was there at a better time when Democrats and Republicans worked together and got things done.
Stuart Turley [00:27:44] Yes, it.
Martin Frost [00:27:45] Okay. I’ve got to run. Okay.
Stuart Turley [00:27:47] Thank you. See you soon.