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So Much For Energy Security

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An observation worth noting from the Energy Policy Information Center:

As we look to the future, it is important to remember that high oil prices are effectively necessary to sustain investment in the very resources unlocking new supplies: tight oil, ultra-deepwater, and unconventional resources. It is also important to be mindful of the fact that the global oil market remains heavily influenced by anti-competitive forces, including a producers' cartel and dominant state-run enterprises, which alone control nearly 90 percent of global proved oil reserves. As a result of higher global oil prices, the average U.S. household saw a 130 percent increase in spending on gasoline over the past decade, from $1,235 in 2002 to $2,912 in 2012....So while we embrace the undeniable benefits we have reaped from tapping the Bakken, it is crucial for the nation not to be placated by the relatively minor benefits to energy security, when compared to the true long-term burden of oil dependence.
So while the nation should continue to embrace the domestic oil boom and reap its considerable benefits, we cannot be lulled into a false sense of security that 'energy independence' or any such fictional utopia is just around the corner. Ultimately, only decreasing the oil intensity of our economy and embracing alternatives to oil--particularly in the transportation sector--can the U.S. break the ties that bind the fate of our economy to that of the global oil market, and thereby protect our economy from the negative impact of volatile oil prices, and fully harness the benefits of secure, abundant, and affordable American energy.

Reality can certainly spoil the happiest of stories, can't it? Energy Independence and Energy Security are such comforting notions ... at least until those damned facts get in the way. Might be worthwhile for those otherwise pre-disposed to swallow the stories whole to pause for a moment or two and consider the effect and impact of actual facts. And while they're at it, pondering what the motivations have been for cherry-picking and misleading--and who is and is not being served by those tactics--might also be enlightening.

We continue to hear a lot about the increase in oil production here in the States, courtesy of the tight oil formations in North Dakota and Texas. The numbers are impressive--no doubt; so are the costs and efforts needed to extract these and other unconventional resources. None of this occurs in a vacuum, and there are consequences just as there are benefits.

The oil industry and their media talking heads tell us a great deal about the vast this or that, but they skip right past the reality part: this production boom doesn't happen without high prices and lot more energy input to get output. And high prices--while encouraging/justifying more exploration and production--affects our personal lifestyles and finances. What happens when paying the high prices is no longer a good option for us?

The industry and their shills never get around to explaining those aspects of real life, just as they never tell you how much more effort and energy is needed just to keep production flat, let alone bend the curve upward. What happens to their efforts when we stop funding it all? Investors are beginning to curtail their own contributions, and none of these facts bode well for energy security or energy independence.

Alternative sources of energy won't just show up at just the right time. A lot of research and effort and expense and testing and implementation has to happen first. Starting discussions on a national level about how we plan for, fund, and then do all that necessary to make those transitions wouldn't be a bad idea. That means knuckleheads who can't seem to deal with facts and reality need to step aside, or start paying attention and offering more than feel-good nonsense.

All of us will benefit from those better efforts and more honorable contributions.

Adapted from a blog post of mine
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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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