Presidents since Richard Nixon have championed energy independence as a way the country off of foreign oil. However, a new report argues that the U.S. should not simply seek independence from all foreign oil, but on reducing oil imports from unfriendly nations.
“The real issue is not independence from all foreign oil, but reducing oil imports from unfriendly nations, diversifying our supply of energy sources and ensuring that no nation can effectively manipulate markets against our national interests,” reads the report by Deloitte, a consulting firm.
The U.S. is already significantly energy “independent,” says the report, in terms of relying on domestic production, and secure energy really only applies to petroleum — 36 percent of the nation’s energy supply.
The U.S. imports 45 percent of its petroleum supply, with most of it coming from Canada and Mexico. When our friendly neighbors to the north and south are accounted for, they make up 37 percent of U.S. oil imports.
Subtracting that from the total amount of imports means only 28 percent of U.S. oil imports are considered “potentially unsecure,” from countries like Venezuela, Russia, Ecuador, or Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, security challenges to the U.S. only amount to 10 to 15 percent of the country’s energy portfolio.
“And, upon assuring energy security for this portion of the portfolio, complete energy independence is largely unnecessary,” the report says.
“Developing and exploiting our remaining oil and gas resources, investigating next-generation nuclear power and continuing to expand renewable energy sources, all make good sense from a variety of economic and policy perspectives,” the report continues.
An OPEC oil embargo on the United States during the 1970s, intended to punish U.S. support for Israel, caused long-lasting shortages and brought energy policy to the forefront of political discussions.
Energy issues have played a role in this presidential debate as both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have championed energy independence and less reliance on foreign oil.
“My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs,” Romney said in the first presidential debate earlier this month.
“This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs,” said Obama in his 2012 State of the Union address.
“Any ‘all of the above’ policy must include a healthy dose of energy efficiency as well as support for alternative and renewable energy sources,” the report continues. “Continuing and expanding on our traditional policies of market pricing and consumer choice, while pursuing measured and effective environmental and efficiency regulations, are aspects of an energy policy that truly supports national energy security.”
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