A new report from the Energy Security Leadership Council, a group including business leaders and retired military officials, warns that U.S. energy policy advocates are conflating “energy independence” with “energy security.” Relying on increased domestic production oil and natural gas is misguided, they argue, and the country should instead seek to decrease reliance on all oil.
The report acknowledges that the recent boom in energy production in the U.S. will have positive economic impacts, and calls for the government to make federal lands available for oil and gas development. However, the authors state, “as long as the United States remains a large consumer of oil, no level of domestic fuel production can meaningfully improve energy security.” Using Canada and Norway as examples of net-exporting countries who nonetheless had national oil prices that tracked global prices, the report says that a country cannot produce its way to energy security.
The transportation sector should be the immediate focus of efforts to reduce reliance on oil and improve U.S. energy security, according to the report. In a country where 93% of transportation fuel needs are met by petroleum, they argue, recently enhanced “vehicle fuel-economy standards are the most important energy security accomplishment in decades.”
Has the American political discourse confused energy independence and energy security? Has policy reflected this confusion? What costs and benefits are associated with reduced U.S. reliance on oil?