• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Declaring Independence from the Energy Independence Mindset

    The Washington Post asks: “What does it mean for a nation to be energy independent? Is it realistic and if so how should that be achieved?”

    Energy Independence is a mixed bag — both good and bad energy policy ideas are promoted under its banner. The bad outweighs the good, and in any event energy independence shouldn’t supplant free markets as the overarching principle for sound energy policy.

    Among the few good ideas spurred by the desire to achieve energy independence is expanding domestic energy production. As it is, the great majority of energy-rich federal lands and offshore areas have not been leased for oil exploration and drilling. The President has recently paid lip service to expanded access, but in reality his Department of the Interior spent its first year rolling out an unprecedented crackdown on energy leasing. Granted, increased domestic drilling will not end oil imports, but it would lead to greater supplies of oil and lower prices as well as thousands of new energy industry jobs. It is well worth pursuing for those reasons.

    Among the bad energy independence ideas is the mandate for domestic renewable fuels, chiefly corn-based ethanol. Thanks to a Bush-era law, 12 billion gallons of it must be added to the gasoline supply in 2010. Ethanol raises the cost of driving – which is why proponents needed a law forcing the rest of us to use it – and the diversion of nearly a third of the corn crop from food to fuel use has raised food prices as well. The real losers are American consumers, not the Saudi oil sheikhs, Iran’s regime, or Hugo Chavez.

    Perhaps worst of all is costly global warming policy. Cap and trade and other measures were not selling as environmental policy — the public has shown little concern about global warming – so they have been repackaged by supporters as energy independence policy (as well as jobs policy, hence all the green jobs rhetoric). It may make for an improved sales pitch but it doesn’t add up. The main target of global warming legislation is coal, the one energy source America has in overwhelming abundance. Oil imports would not be reduced very much, but U.S. electric rates would, in the words of President Obama, “necessarily skyrocket.”

    Most of the energy independence agenda is a policy boomerang – it is supposed to hurt the oil rich enemies of America but ends up hurting Americans instead. There are better ways of dealing with such regimes – and certainly better ways of meeting our nation’s energy needs.

    Cross-posted at The Washington Post’s Planet Panel.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Declaring Independence from the Energy Independence Mindset

    1. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      Let's see, the electric light bulb was discovered where?? The USA, oil was first discovered where, USA, the first auto's were built , where?? USA NOW the big question, WHY ARE WE (USA) dependening on other countries that hate us?? We sold out technology, we had NAFTA thanks to Clinton, in other words, we gave away our assests and now we are crying. We need to change our methods, shore up our borders and keep our assests here at home.

    2. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Regardless of all the lies and distortions, we have enough oil, natural gas, and

      coal under our soil and under our offshore waters to make us totally "energy independent" for over 100 years. Despite the absurd pay on words by Obama,

      who said nothing about drilling, only "exploration". If we would start dirlling and

      producing oil tomorrow, where would it be processed? Most refinerys are working

      to capacity. New refinery construction has been prohibited in the U.S. for decades. From first exploration to final product, it takes a minimum of 10 years. It takes about 5 to 7 years to build a refinery, and that doesn't count the years

      of court fights that cost any refining company millions before the first drop is

      refined.

    3. James L. Campbell (T says:

      A shift in coal from being the prime fuel to a base for conversion to gasoline would greatly reduce carbon emissions if the shift is accompanied by an ambitious realistice nuclear power program thereby eliminating the necessity for coal fired powerplants.

      Would the change cost money (read that as tax dollars)? Yes! Long term no! The secret is allow the conversion to occur in the private sector without government funding using private funding and implementation of the desired programs by tax incentives, not by cap and trade taxes.

      James L. Campell

    4. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Energy policy should be: Eliminate all subsidies; open all energy resources for exploration and production: require organizations such as Sierra Club to establish legal standing before allowing them to sue on energy matters with loser to pay restitution; defund EPA and the Energy Department; pay off debt using all the royalties and taxes derived from energy activities-can not be used in general fund. In short, restore the US Constitution and muzzle the federal government from interefering in energy.

      Free energy to achieve independence.

    5. Pingback: Energy Independence Not the Policy Goal | National Review Institute Blog

    6. Chris, Fl says:

      There seems to be quite a bit wrong with our quest for energy independence. First we tell the oil companies they can look for oil where they already know there isn't any.

      Every summer we have a gas shortage and every winter we come up short on fuel oil. Everybody wants the product but nobody wants the refinery. Our refineries are not able to keep up with our needs. They are old and prone to maintainance problems and their age alone should tell us they are not the most efficient. We need new,modern facilities without a court battle dragging on for a decade. Let me make a few suggestions, Fort Hood, Texas (it's probably bigger than some states.) Whitesands, New Mexico (not exactly a tourist mecca) Edwards Air Force Base, California (Give our pilots some practice at taking one out) All federal land, meaning yours and mine.

      The promise of Green Jobs has so many holes in it you can build a refinery there. The technology may be developed here with our money but the manufacturing is going to go off shore like all our other ideas and industries.

      Some people in high places just don't understand that their are people in this country (legally) who prefer to work with their hands and don't mind getting a little dirty doing it. When all you have ever seen is the inside of an office these people don't know what it is to work in the heat of summer and the cold of winter and still go home at the end of the day and feel satisfaction with your work.

      Buildings get built, roads get laid and fields get plowed and when your work is done you can say "I did that". It doesn't apply to paperwork, unless you are an author or a newsman, because you can toil all your life and the pile of paper looks the same on the last day as it did on the first.

      Our country has enough natural gas to last us hundreds of years but except for T. Boone Pickens I don't hear anybody telling us to switch from oil & coal. No, we have to make plans to switch to new technologies that won't be affordable in my lifetime.

      As for nuclear, it seems to me we have a bunch of guys who used to build bombs with a lot of time on their hands. Lock them in a room and don't let them out until they come up with the design for a safe, affordable power plant. Tell the people this is it and we are going to build a lot of them, all the same. I worked on large commercial buildings and I can tell you honestly that no engineer wants to use the same design twice. It's always a case of reinventing the wheel even if two buildings are exactly alike.

      Cap and Trade is a total folly especially when nobody in the entire history of the world has ever graduated from any university with a degree in global climatology. It's been proven that our system of national temperature recording is not working as it was designed. Why do all these experts come up with the same results? For the same reason that the US.and Russian SSTs all looked like the Concorde. They are all using the same data and disregarding anything that doesn't lend itself to the outcome they're looking for. It's like saying 2+2=4 and then designing mathematics to fit the answer.

    7. Daniel Stone says:

      Where is your proof that we have enough oil under us for 100 years? Pseudo-science at best, absolute lie at worst.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×