Delivering energy security: why is America still so dependent on oil?

Author:Kuhn, Robert Lawrence
Position:UNCOMMON WISDOM - Viewpoint essay

I feel stupid, and I am angry. The stupidity is collective; the anger is personal. I am angry because I feel stupid and the reason is oil. Energy, actually, and that's the point. There is no rational reason why America, with our technology and our wealth, is still so massively dependent on oil for energy.

But we have chosen to cede to others control of our energy, and along with our energy our future, and along with our future, perhaps even our sovereignty. That we've chosen by default, not by design, makes the choice no less ours. We are becoming progressively more vulnerable, and we do not seem to mind. Maybe we're lulled by the slow rate of the erosion of our power. It is as if, to use a World War II analogy, the German Army were advancing slowly across North Africa and the Allies didn't much care.

I have some suggestions, but first here's some background. If you've heard it before, hear it again.

Energy Trends and Risks

It is the odd consequence of capricious geological history and arbitrary national boundaries that the major industrial regions of the world--the United States, Europe, Japan and China--do not have sufficient domestic energy to meet their voracious and increasing needs. Compounding the problem, the growth of China and India means that energy demand will not naturally diminish. The people of China and India do not deem it fair to freeze current standards of living, as some in the developed world would have them do, and thus memorialize great imbalances between countries. China and India argue that they are perfectly ready to limit future increases in energy consumption once their per capita energy consumption reaches that of developed countries.


So with energy demand ever increasing and supply ever decreasing, and becoming more concentrated, both prices and vulnerabilities are ever rising. As such, for America, the ready and reliable supply of energy is a diminishing national strategic resource, and securing and protecting energy is an accreting national security problem.

Energy risks are at least threefold: risk of sourcing (confidence in the reliability and continuity of foreign sources), risk of transport (dangers lurking in the movement of energy over thousands of miles), and risk of pricing (uncertainty in costs of energy and factors that affect costs). In today's world, energy and oil are as much national security issues as are sovereignty and borders.


America's reliance...

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