A cult has sprouted up around the following gripe. To feed our domestic oil addiction, say many, the U.S. is in bed with the Saudis. This cult of dependency has been infectious. Here’s the bad news: It isn’t true.
The United States energy flow is roughly 1/5 coal, 1/5 natural gas, 1/10 domestic crude oil and 1/5 foreign petroleum. We’re just about as energy independent as any country can hope to be. Of the 104.54 quadrillion BTUs that make up the energy flow of the country, nearly 70% of that is domestic. Hell, 25% of our oil is home-grown. The US only imports about 26% of the oil we use from Arabic OPEC countries compared to 24% coming from non-Arabic OPEC. Both Canada and Mexico supply more oil to the U.S. than Saudi Arabia.
The oil/energy relationship can be tricky. On the surface climate change, energy alternatives, carbon offsets, carbon trading, energy efficiency and transportation are all the same. Yet, how energy is a part and apart of those concerns differs incredibly.
And then there’s that little detail about what energy is versus how energy is used. When we speak of energy independence and then talk about renewables, coupled with the ills of SUVs, we are mixing topics. Wind power can’t power cars but petroleum can produce electricity. Same is true for solar power – great for powering your toaster, not so good for filling up your Prius’ fuel tank.
If we want effective energy policy, we should focus on domestic stuff such as lengthening the lifespan of the Production Tax Credit to 2050, and not on our relationships with oil rich countries.
The bad news is that we don’t need to worry too much about being in bed with the Saudis to feed our oil addiction. We are already energy independent. Even worse, all we can do now is try to solve the issue of how to use less energy while using greener fuel sources that emit fewer emissions to the point that we are Net Zero. The only thing that’ll do is create new jobs, encourage more investment, develop new economic sectors and maybe, just maybe remediate global warming. But that’s just more bad news to some.