Future energy independence is close at hand

Washington's political class often seems impervious to changing facts. Case in point is the nation's current and probable future access to essential energy resources, especially fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal. This trio of carbon-based fuels accounts for the vast majority of the nation's electrical and other forms of power, and will continue to do so through at least 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The United States is the world's largest consumer of energy, but is also the world's most productive economy, so demand here for energy resources is going to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

According to the conventional wisdom, supplies will soon peak and then the nation will experience severe declines in the supply of oil and natural gas. Thus, the U.S. should invest billions in the development of renewable energy resources and use the power of government to create artificial consumer demand for them by imposing mandates for their use. Energy costs “will necessarily skyrocket,” to use President Obama's memorable words, but that's the price the nation must pay in order to achieve energy independence and protect the environment.

When the price of a barrel of oil hit $147 per barrel in July 2008 and Americans were paying as much as $4 per gallon for gas, that scenario seemed reasonable. But it turns out that in the years since, the energy market has experienced profound changes that negate the conventional view. As the New York Times recently reported, “Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.”

The significant news wasn't restricted to oil. The Times also noted that “another wave of natural gas drilling has taken off in shale rock fields across the United States, and more shale gas drilling is just beginning in Europe and Asia. Add to that an increase in liquefied natural gas export terminals around the world that connected gas, which once had to be flared off, to the world market, and gas prices have plummeted.” The result, according to the Times, is that energy experts now predict decades of residential and commercial power at reasonable prices.”

In other words, the nation can look forward to abundant oil and natural gas supplies at affordable prices for decades to come. As Institute for Energy Research President Thomas J. Pyle puts it, “We can improve our economy, create jobs, and increase our supply of affordable, reliable energy in one fell swoop if the government allows businesses to look for and produce American energy.” Consumers should ask how much longer Washington will continue policies meant to restrict access to these resources.

editorialsNEPOpinion

Just Posted

ose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014. 
Rose Pak and Willie Brown at an event in 2014.
Willie and Rose: An alliance for the ages

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

San Francisco supervisors are considering plans to replace trash cans — a “Renaissance” garbage can is pictured on Market Street — with pricey, unnecessary upgrades. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco must end ridiculous and expensive quest for ‘pretty’ trash cans

SF’s unique and pricey garbage bins a dream of disgraced former Public Works director

Giants right fielder Mike Yastrzemski is pictured at bat on July 29 against the Dodgers at Oracle Park; the teams are in the top spots in their league as the season closes. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
With playoff positions on the line, old rivalries get new life

Giants cruised through season, Dodgers not far behind

Pachama, a Bay Area startup, is using technology to study forests and harness the carbon-consuming power of trees. (Courtesy Agustina Perretta/Pachama)
Golden Gate Park visitors may take a survey about options regarding private car access on John F. Kennedy Drive, which has been the subject of controversy during the pandemic.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Your chance to weigh in: Should JFK remain closed to cars?

Host of mobility improvements for Golden Gate Park proposed

Most Read