The Move Towards Greater Energy Independence

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. is close to achieving energy independence, the closest we’ve been in approximately 20 years. According to the Bloomberg article:

The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.

Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp. (MX), the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.”

Last month, however, according to an article in National Review, was the most expensive January ever at U.S. gasoline pumps. National Review points out that January is normally a month which ushers in lower gas prices, but that was not the case this year.

Historic Gas Prices Chart


For more information on gas pricing, click here.

It is also important to note that even though domestic oil and natural gas production is on the increase, the majority of that production is taking place on private land – mostly in Texas, Alaska and North Dakota.  The Heritage Foundation provides  further analysis:

  • Under the Obama administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.

Efforts towards energy independence continue to be met, inexplicably, by some resistance.For example, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has been a longstanding opponent of oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And, most recently, Cantwell was part of an effort to deal a blow to a Republican strategy for energy exploration.

The Republican plan was offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) but was eventually withdrawn.

Cantwell and like-minded individuals, however, are outnumbered according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) poll which found that 70% of American voters support an increase in usage of U.S.  oil and natural gas resources.  Approximately the same percentage are of the view that this would be beneficial to the U.S. because of the positive impact it would have on the job market.

In order to continue moving towards greater energy independence, the Heritage Foundation recommends that three steps be taken:

  • First, we need to clearly state and stick by the principle that people are our most valuable resource. Natural resources and energy policies should be judged first and foremost on how good they are for people. Meeting human needs should be paramount. This is because we value people’s well-being above other measures such as carbon emissions or the population of a rare insect and because we recognize that the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of a free people hold the keys to meeting our challenges.

Americans have always been able to meet our energy challenges, discovering ways to find, extract, develop and market energy resources. Impediments aside, Americans will continue to meet our needs today and allow for other generations to enjoy our natural resources as well.

It was a private visionary, not the Department of Energy, who combined existing technologies ” horizontal drilling and fracking ” to dramatically increase the amount of natural gas we may now be able to tap.  More

  • Second, we need environmental policies that are site- and situation-specific. What works for the people of West Virginia or Alaska may not work elsewhere. The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal minders don’t always know best, but the regulators do hold many big sticks. Congress should require them to leave to the states as much of the processes overseeing energy resource development as is possible and right.  More
  • Third, we need to recognize that the most promising opportunities for improving our environment are not in government ownership and regulation, but in extending the protection of private property and unleashing the creative powers of the free markets. More

The U.S. needs to employ common sense, responsible solutions in our move towards greater energy independence. We can and should find a balance between consideration for the future of the country’s energy needs and the preservation of natural resources and wildlife.  Balance, not extremism, is what is warranted.

Candice Lanier