Energy independence is a dangerous delusion or even a lie some experts insist. America consumes nearly 25 per cent of global energy but has just 3 per cent of world oil reserves. We import close to 70 per cent of the oil we consume. How can we be energy independent?
Simply put, America is energy independent, with the important exception of oil. We now have seas of American natural gas, plenty of coal, more than enough wind, solar, hydro potential energy to supply America. But not enough oil.
Reducing oil consumption by 70 per cent would end our dependence on foreign oil and make us energy independent once again. Let us remember America was energy independent for our entire history until about 1960.
Today oil provides 90 per cent of our transportation fuel with American ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas the remainder.
And today substitutes for oil--natural gas vehicles, electricity vehicles, biofuels--are more viable than ever in our history. Oil at $100 per barrel or more makes a lot of substitutes economic, putting aside the huge national security costs to all Americans that will never be fully priced into the price of oil.
But the immense national security costs that amount to trillions of dollars must be included and not put aside.
In addition to the oil substitutes, America has two more big resources that must be deployed to end foreign oil dependence and make us energy independent.
First is American oil. We can produce 6 to 8 billion barrels per day or about 30 to 35 per cent of our current oil consumption.
The second immense resource is energy efficiency. At $4 or higher gasoline prices many efficiency measures to reduce oil consumption become economic and even imperative.
One hundred plus dollar oil changes everything. Oil substitutes are economic, more US oil production is economic, and energy efficiency is a bargain. For example high mileage vehicles--more than 40 mpg--now command a premium in the used car market.
The USA is now energy independent except for oil. Oil substitutes, American oil production, and high mileage vehicles and other energy efficiency can cut US oil consumption by 70 per cent within 20 years and make the USA energy independent once more.