Americans depend on cheap and reliable energy. That is a fact. Our daily lives, our wellbeing and our prosperity as individuals require access to cheap and reliable energy sources. According toAmericanEnergyIndependence.com, “Prior to 1950 the U.S. had absolute energy independence. In 1950 the USA was producing over 50 percent of the world’s oil, enough for all of its own needs with plenty left over for exports. But the post-World War II U.S. economic boom eventually created demand for more oil than U.S. wells could produce.”
Between 1950 and 1973 (the year of the Arab oil embargo) U.S. oil imports had grown from near zero to about 32 percent of U.S. oil consumption. By 1994, the U.S. was importing more oil than it produced. In 2010, oil imports provided about 60 percent of all oil consumed in the USA.
Since the Arab oil embargo of 1973 every U.S. President has talked about energy independence. This rhetoric has both real and political implications. For when you and I go to fill up our cars with gasoline we see the real cost of U.S. energy. When it hits our pocket book reality sets in immediately.
It is at the gas pump where economic security and national security meet.
Energy markets are projecting higher oil prices and headlines are predicting gasoline to hit $5 plus per gallon
before the summer 2012 vacation surge. This is all happening because of two primary factors: the failure to address the threat in the Middle East and every administration’s failure since 1973 to achieve at least “strategic energy independence”.
American energy independence can be absolute or strategic. Absolute energy independence is where America produces all the energy it needs as it did in 1950. Strategic energy independence is defined by AmeiricanEnergyIndependance.com as, “a country allows imported energy, but only if the imported energy does not create vulnerability. Strategic energy independence allows oil imports, but does not allow the imports to create economic, political or military vulnerability.”
America has repeatedly failed to achieve strategic energy independence.
I believe America has failed to achieve strategic energy independence by acts of omission and commission. Administrations and Congress since 1973 have not addressed the Arab stranglehold on oil exports from the Middle East. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a cartel formed in 1965. Each member of OPEC is absolutely energy independent. The purpose of OPEC is to maintain oil prices at a high level and restrict competition.
OPEC has successfully used oil to directly tax Americans because of a lack of a U.S. strategic national security policy to deal with OPEC. Iran, a member of OPEC, is working to gain control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s actions are designed to punish those who would punish it. Iran is in effect imposing sanctions on the America people at the gas pump.
The Institute for Energy Research (IER) released a study titled "North American Energy Inventory
" that shows America is awash in natural energy resources (oil, natural gas, and coal). This and previous administrations and Congress have failed, by commission, to extract these natural resources and achieve as a minimum strategic energy independence. According to IER North America can become absolutely energy independent if it wished.
Who bears the brunt of these failures of national security and economic policies, you and me?
As Victor Hugo wrote, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” The time has come for U.S. strategic energy independence with the goal of returning to absolute energy independence.