The idea of U.S. energy independence isn’t a new idea. Nixon declared war on foreign oil in the 70’s. In 2006 George W. Bush said the U.S. is, “addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” And most recently, Donald Trump pushed for energy independence as part of his Presidential campaign. So, this brings up a couple good questions…
Is U.S. energy independence a good idea?
Is U.S. energy independence possible?
Well, on the surface, the argument seems like a good idea. The U.S. imports over 60% of their oil from questionable locations around the globe, exposing our economy and politics to numerous world pressures, stresses, and problems. Our large imports also increase and our already massive trade imbalance, while simultaneously filling the pockets of countries like Iran, Russia, and Venezuela—not necessarily America’s list of best friends. So, when you think about it, energy independence sounds like a pretty good way to get rid of all that. Right?
Not so fast.
First of all, currently the U.S. doesn’t have a “real” substitute for the oceans of oil we import. Yes, American drilling is increasing in 2017, but at this point, can that really replace what we are importing. Honestly… not yet.
And even if we had good renewable energy alternatives ready to deploy—such as fleets of super efficient cars, solar panels on every roof, and wind turbines on every hilltop, we’d need decades to replace the current oil infrastructure – and that would take lots of energy in the process – AKA oil. Somewhat ironically… to build the energy economy that we want, we would need to lean heavily on the current energy economy that we have. However, this doesn’t stop the renewable lobbyists like wind and solar from pushing their agenda to get subsidies and advance their own sectors by playing on the fears of Americans being dependent on foreign oil.
So, let’s bust some myths. Is U.S. energy independence possible? Yes, it is, but not nearly as quickly as some people would like you to believe. Is it a good idea? Yes, but it’s not as clear cut as people would like you to believe.
The better question might be, “do we have energy security?” Regardless of where our energy is coming from, do we know we have a secure source of it long into the future? That’s the answer we want to say YES to! If we can get it cheaper by importing it, why not as long as it’s a secure source? Let them use up their oil before we use up ours! But we should also be Rolling out new technology as soon as possible because it takes so long for it to take hold.
Energy independence is a good goal, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t “generally” strive for it... But let’s make sure we’re keeping the whole picture in view and not cutting off our nose to spite our face.