Eco-Living Magazine

U.S. Energy Independence is a Delusion

Posted on the 02 May 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev
West Texas Pumpjack

Increasing America’s domestic energy production is something most of us can agree on, but it seems there is a fork in the road as to how to get there. Some argue we should rely on the United States’ vast deposits of shale, coal and other natural resources, while others believe renewable energy from wind and solar is a better alternative. But, will either of these energy sources, or any combination of the two, actually make America truly energy independent? The overwhelming answer is no.

The idea that U.S. energy independence is a fantasy isn’t as much a shocking revelation as it is a reflection of global energy markets. Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, made a couple interesting points in a speech Tuesday regarding America’s sought after energy independence:

  • Middle East oil exports to the U.S. were higher in 2012 than any time since U.S. oil production began soaring in 2009. This trend shows that the U.S. is a major energy consumer and it will utilize various energy sources
  • The notion of energy independence fails to recognize the interconnected nature of global energy markets. The U.S. should instead focus on how it will export its new oil and gas supplies

In a 2012 article by The Magazine of International Economic Policy, most experts held the view that, even if the U.S. is a net exporter of oil and gas (as predicted by distinguished economist Phil Verleger), it is not in a position to be energy independent or free from ties to the Middle East. Dan Mahaffee, Director of Policy and Board Relations at a policy research and education non profit, said that if energy developments in the U.S. allow it to become a net energy exporter, the U.S. will continue to shape the global marketplace in a similar fashion it does today. Harvard professor Joseph Nye argued that while increased domestic production would make the U.S. less vulnerable to energy dependence, it would still be sensitive to sudden changes in global oil prices. Espousing a harsher outlook, Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow from the Heritage Foundation argued that because major foreign exporters hold a competitive advantage over the U.S. in terms of oil production cost, Americans will still fuel their vehicles with foreign oil even a decade from today.

The phrase “energy independence” is misleading and should not be confused with isolationism or the ability to ignore events shaping world energy supplies. Producing more domestic energy, whether through renewables or natural resources, may help the U.S. improve its geopolitical bargaining position but only in the context of an energy interdependent system. Furthermore, an interconnected global economy means that the energy security of America’s allies and trade partners is vital to its own well being.

Image by Eric Kounce

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