One of the most common topics in every election cycle is the topic of US energy independence. For years, both sides of the aisles have promised to free America from foreign dependence on oil, and for years, they’ve never come through. So, this brings up the question: Is US energy independence possible?
President Trump seems to think so. His America First Energy Plan expresses the following:
The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil… Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. … We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well.
But is all this really possible?
The facts are this:
- The US hasn’t produced as much oil as it has consumed in over 50 years! Even if we go back to the fracking boom in 2014, BP’s statistics show Americans were burning 7 million barrels per day more oil than was being produced here in the US.
- Conventional oil discovery is the lowest it’s been in 70 years despite the oil companies throwing millions/billions of dollars into exploration.
With those two facts in mind, it seems the goal is much more difficult than we think to achieve. So, what has to happen to achieve the goal of energy independence?
As I see it, there are three levers to pull. Reduce your consumption, increase your production and replace fossil fuels with a different energy source (domestic, of course).
However, let’s be honest; with the population rising exponentially, consumption isn’t going to decrease… Even if we implement new energy efficient technology and roll out massive propaganda campaigns to reduce your personal energy consumption. It’s just not going to happen.
That leaves us with increasing production and finding new energy sources.
For production to increase we need to do two things: reduce regulations so oil companies can afford to drill for the domestic oil and invest in technology that allows US companies to get to the “harder to reach” oil. President Trump seems to be working on these two items, so I’ll give him props for that.
For new energy sources to replace oil we again need to invest in the renewable energy technology and infrastructure that goes along with it. I’m not seeing much of this from the Trump Administration yet.
Whether President Trump can pull these actions off, is yet to be seen. But, if I were a betting man, I would put my money on history and say energy independence is probably a myth for the foreseeable future.