Posts tagged “energy independence”
I work on energy policy for a national security think tank, so I am often asked to talk about energy security. Last week, I participated in a conference in which we were asked to comment on “U.S. Energy Security: How Do We Get There?” As I listened to the presenters at the conference, I realized that how you viewed the problem of ‘Energy Security’ depends on how you identify it. We all seem to have determined that energy security is a problem, but we each had different understandings of what the term ‘energy security’ actually means! Of course, that means there were very different prescriptions for how to ‘solve’ the problems of ‘energy security.’
In the absence of a definition, everyone defines energy security differently –both speakers and listeners. It is something like the late Margaret Thatcher said about the politics of consensus: “it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” Along those lines, I believe that ‘energy security’ has devolved into simply a buzzword: a phrase that everyone favors, but defines differently. Pundits, politicians, lobbyists, industry, and campaigners from across the political spectrum cry ‘energy security’ because it polls better than their preferred policies. I have done it as well. Listeners, then, are misled because, really, who could actually be against ‘energy security?’ It is like being against mom, America, and apple pie.
Even as reports are being released that suggest that the United States will slowly increase its energy output, the American government itself has underscored that fact with its own report detailing energy-related forecasts through 2040.
The report, issued by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), draws many conclusions, perhaps most important among them the fact that, while American energy imports accounted for 19 percent of its population’s use in 2011, that same number will drop to only 9 percent in 2040 as the country positions itself as a world energy powerhouse. (Read More: How Much Oil Does the World Produce?)
A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), a group made up of 28 nations, says that the United States will surpass fossil fuel giants Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by the year 2017.
The United States is closer than many think to true energy self-sufficiency, says the annual long-term report, contrasting sharply with previous IEA numbers that suggested that Saudi Arabia would remain the world’s top oil producer until at least 2035. (Read more: Hofmeister: Surging Demand and Flat Production Equals High Oil Prices)
First thing, on this day after the U.S. presidential elections I would like to congratulate President Obama on his reelection. My top prediction for 2012 – made nearly a year ago and reiterated many times since — was that Obama would easily win reelection, primarily because all of the Republican contenders had baggage that was likely to keep some of the Republican base from voting. Therefore, I did not believe that the country was likely to see any major shift in energy policy, and the next four years will be similar to the past four years.
It has been a while since I hosted a guest post in my column here. I decided to host this one by Paul Stinson from North Hampton, New Hampshire because he offers up a thought-provoking concept that I have not encountered elsewhere. I am uncertain whether a proposal such as this could work, but I thought it was worth offering up to readers because it is really outside-the-box thinking. It has some similarities to my own proposals for incentivizing renewable energy production that would shift risks from the taxpayer into the private sector, and it is a detailed piece of work. CONTINUE»
INCREASED ENERGY INDEPENDENCE? The U.S. has met 83 percent of its energy needs this year through June, according to the Department of Energy
Oil production in the United States rose last week to levels not seen since January 1997, helping the country to reduce dependence on foreign sources of crude as it continues to implement the drilling and fracking technologies needed to increase daily oil output. (See also: Are President Obama’s Policies Causing U.S. Oil Production to Rise?)
Reports from the Energy Department released this week show that overall crude output in the U.S. rose 3.7 percent to 6.5 million barrels per day by the week of September 21, a trend that has continued since the country met 83 percent of its annual energy needs from the beginning of the year through June. Should domestic oil production continue at its current rate, the United States will enjoy 2012 as its most self-sufficient year since 1991.
Power to the States
Yesterday, I wrote about the shortcomings of the Romney energy plan, saying that by looking simply at supply-side, it only goes halfway; a real energy policy addresses both demand and supply sides. There is one part of the plan, however, that I want to highlight because I believe it deserves praise.
The section that stands out as genuinely new and innovative is Romney’s plan to transfer control over energy production on federal lands to states. A Romney Administration would allow states to “establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders” with the exception of lands “specially designated off-limits” (presumably national parks and the like). Federal agencies would certify state’s regulations as meeting an “adequate” level, but would leave most of the decisions to the states themselves. Romney would then encourage a “State Energy Development Council” that would allow states to share best practices and work together. This idea of Energy Federalism would allow states – the “laboratories of Democracy” in Justice Brandeis’ terminology – to test different regimes for energy production.
Dealing With the Total Picture
Last week, Governor Romney released his plan for “Energy Independence” that promises to “increase domestic energy production and increase partnership with Mexico and Canada to gain energy independence by 2020.” Briefly, the plan proposes to increase domestic fossil fuel production by opening new areas to exploration and by reducing regulatory barriers to the building of new power plants.
My concern is that this is simply a one-sided energy policy – it focuses solely on increasing the supply of energy (and almost exclusively on fossil fuels, especially oil). A true energy plan would realize that no matter how much oil your country produces, it can never escape the world market price. In a world with a globalized market for oil, OPEC will always be the most important price-setter, and the price of oil will not be set at home. The price will track with demand from economic growth in India and China and will follow supply shocks from the most recent unrest in oil-producing regions, whether Iran, Sudan, or the South China Sea.
Steve LeVine has been running a series of articles over at his blog on Foreign Policy, The Oil and the Glory about whether becoming a petro-state would change America’s character. While Steve is skeptical that the U.S. can in the future account for most of its energy requirements, I do actually believe that we’re going in that direction (see: Is the U.S. on track to join OPEC and Why U.S. Energy Policy is Poised for a Fundamental Shift).
The numbers are pretty convincing to me: we’re using less energy, especially oil, and we’re producing much more. Eventually, those curves are bound to cross, not today, or even this year, but maybe this decade.
The following guest essay is by Kevin P. Kane. Kevin is an Oil & Gas analyst and cleantech business consultant living in South Korea. Kevin previously published two widely circulated essays: American Freedom from Oil: A Bipartisan Pipedream and Energy Security Populism: Oil Prices, American Leaders, and Media. In this essay Kevin examines the green energy marketplace with a focus on globalization. ————————- Green Global System Integration, Joint Ventures, and Partnerships: How Renewable Energy Accelerates Globalization & Reduces Energy Independence By Kevin P. Kane Many private investors and financial institutions are betting on who will win the green race, but contrary to how our national leaders and media outlets make things appear, they are not wagering on countries: not the… Continue»
I have noted before that every president since Nixon has talked about the need to get the United States off of foreign oil and moving toward energy independence. Jon Stewart recently captured this theme in a very funny, but troubling segment: An Energy-Independent Future The Challenge While Jon does a good job of demonstrating that this idea of reducing our dependence on foreign oil has been unsuccessfully pursued by eight consecutive presidential administrations, the question he asked but did not answer was why this has been such a challenge. So I will pick up where Jon left off and explain why we couldn’t get it done and what it would take to get it done. The technical issue isn’t really… Continue»