Energy Independence A Dry Hole?
"The U.S. may be addicted to oil, but many of its politicians are addicted to 'energy independence'--which may be among the least realistic political slogans in American history...
"Now, energy experts across the political spectrum are criticizing politicians' calls for 'energy independence,' saying the goal falls somewhere between pipe dream and economic impossibility....
"Indeed, the U.S. is moving rapidly away from energy independence: Oil imports made up 35% of the nations petroleum supplies in 1973 and 59% in the first four months of 2006, according to the Dept of Energy. Moreover, 66% of the oil consumed in the U.S. is used in the transportation sector where Americans, with THEIR PENCHANT FOR HEFTY CARS WITH BIG ENGINES, ARE BY FAR THE PLANET'S BIGGEST CONSUMERS OF ENERGY....
"In fact, experts say, America's energy fortunes are inextricably linked to those of other countries. Global oil markets are interconnected, with oil prices set internationally. That means supply disruptions anywhere in the world will continue to have an almost instantaneous effect on the pump price of gasoline in the U.S.
"'The real metric on this is not imported oil, but how much oil we use, period,' says Jerry Taylor, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute who dismisses calls for energy independence as 'rhetorical nonsense that transcends party affiliation.'
"Mr. Grumet's energy commission is trying to get experts to agree that the term 'energy independence' should be dropped. He wants policy makers to focus on curbing oil consumption...
"C. Fred Bergston, an economist and director of the Institute for International Economics, says energy independence is 'ridiculous,' in part because it implies that 'price doesn't matter, that you'll pay any amount to decrease your reliance on imports--and that would be crazy.' He says the U.S. should work toward healthy 'interdependence' by curbing its energy demands while forging alliances with more oil-consuming nations.
"For example, he says, the U.S. and China should be looking for ways to work together. 'We're natural allies; we're both among the world's least efficient users of energy, and we're both big consumers,' he says. 'We should both be on the same side of the table.'
Judith Kipper, a Middle East specialist for the Council on Foreign Relations, says it was counter productive when lawmakers bashed big oil companies and Arab oil producers during the recent jump in prices. 'These people are selling us something we want and need,' she says. 'We refuse to come to terms with our own lack of policy.'"
[Excerpted from an article by John J. Fialka in the Wall Street Journal July 5, 2006.]
Also, it occurs to me that, rather than allowing drilling in the Anwar preserve in Alaska and other environmentally sensitive areas which would not significantly affect our dependence on foreign oil, we should be conserving our own oil for the future and depleting oil supplies from other countries. If the world is on the brink of peak oil production, as some say it is, why be in a hurry to use up our U.S. domestic reserves? I wonder if the Bush administration's motivation for this has more to do with oil company profits than other factors put forth by supporters of drilling in the Anwar preserve.
A useful step to conserve energy conservation would be to take steps designed to encourage Americans to buy smaller, more fuel efficient cars. There are several ways this could be done. The simplest, but probably the most difficult politically, would be to taper in over 5 years an increase in gasoline taxes sufficient to bring the U.S. pump price up to the level of Europe, currently around $6/gallon. Tapering in the tax increase would give auto makers time to plan for a change in their product mix and for customers to adjust their plans to include smaller, more fuel efficient cars. This approach offers simplicity and leaves the vehicle design process up to automotive engineers. The downside is that the gasoline tax is regressive, falling most heavily on the people who can least afford it. Vehicle weight and/or horesepower taxes would be another alternative to increasing gasoline taxes.
Finally, conservation is the first of many steps that will be required to begin to deal with the issue of global warming.
Running out of oil a blessing??
- Scarcity, Mother of Invention
Running out of fossil fuels could be good for us.