One thing that really annoys me about every presidential debate is that every candidate feels the need to say “America must have energy independence!” Why?
Let’s step back and ask the question, should America be (a) an island completely self-sufficient and independent from the rest of the world with no foreign trade; or (b) part of a global economic community?
Although there are some dissenters who will like option (a), the policy of our government and both political parties, for many decades, has been solidly in camp (b). Thus we are now in a position where we are not only dependent on foreign countries for our oil needs, but just about all of our other needs as well. Walk through any store that sells stuff, such as Walmart, Best Buy, or Macy’s, and just about everything they sell is manufactured in some foreign country. Even the rare item that says “made in the USA” probably was manufactured with imported raw materials or subcomponents.
In light of the above, exactly what benefit does being “energy independent” bring when we are dependent on so much else for our well being? The only energy source we are dependent on is petroleum, which is a fungible resource which means that any country with excess petroleum production can supply us with it. We also have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which means that if the supply is suddenly cut off, we have a reserve that gives us time to resolve the issue.
We should be more worried about China. China is a communist country, historically an enemy, on which we are dependent for a huge number of manufactured items.
The only explanation for the obsession with “energy independence” is that people are recalling the oil embargo from 35 years ago, and left-wing environmentalists (new-age liberals) , who hate petroleum with every fiber of their body, are taking advantage of this collective memory to trick us into thinking there are legitimate conservative (as opposed to liberal) reasons for using less petroleum.
Just as the army is always fighting the last war, our politicians are busy fighting the last trade embargo and not thinking about the present or the future.