In December 200,8 Marine Corps General James Jones (Ret) wrote in a Wall Street Journal article that “You can’t use the word energy independence. It is not a valid phrase. It is designed to excite people. But it is simply not going to happen.”
At the time that Mr. Jones made this pronouncement, the U.S. Minerals Management Service was estimating that there were approximately 18 billion barrels (BBls) of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas in the Outer Continental Shelf. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that there were at least 10.6 BBls of oil and 8.6 Tcf of gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Texas, which currently leads the states in oil production, has massive proven oil (11.1 BBls) and gas (93.5 Tcf) reserves. North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado round out the top five in terms of oil production. Crude oil is produced in 32 states. The top five natural gas-producing states are Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
Wyoming leads in coal production, with West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and North Dakota being critical coal-producing states as well. In 2019 it was estimated that Wyoming had 1.4 trillion tons of total coal resources.
The United States Geological Survey has estimated there are likely 1 billion pounds of known and potential resources of uranium in deposits throughout Texas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Arizona. Uranium is used in the 93 operable nuclear reactors in the United States, providing 20% of the nation’s electricity. Despite leading global uranium production in 1980, almost none is being produced in the United States today. Almost 50% of our uranium fuel supplies now come from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
The United States has massive amounts of domestic energy that we can produce right here, thereby creating thousands of jobs, and enriching our economy to an extent never seen before.
In 2018, the United States became the largest crude oil producer in the world, thereby becoming energy independent for the first time in over 60 years. That feat defied Mr. Jones’s predictions from ten years earlier and was accomplished through technological advances, as well as pursuit of a regulatory and political agenda focused on energy dominance and the recognition that development of domestic energy supplies is always in the best interests of our country.
In just the last year we have gone from a 4% surplus of domestic oil and gas production to a 4% deficit—a swing of 8% in 12 short months. This state of affairs did not happen by accident or because of a lack of readily and economically accessible energy resources; we have more than enough oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium to power this country into the far distant future, and the technology to do so while protecting our environment. This situation is instead the direct result of the misguided and destructive federal policy decisions that do nothing to protect the environment, while empowering Russia to move forward with its plans of regional and international dominance.
It is important to note that Congress—our legislative branch—had no involvement with the decision to instantaneously transform us from energy independence to energy dependence. This situation did not arise because of a change in the laws that apply to our energy industries. It did not come about because there were new developments exposing additional dangers in fracking, oil production, coal mining, or construction of the related infrastructure (such as pipelines or deep-water ports). It did not result from a public outcry demanding more expensive fuel, food, and housing. We are in this situation for one simple reason: the current administration has chosen to punish America, putting us last on the world stage, placing an embargo on new energy development here, while enriching and empowering Russia to produce even more oil and natural gas to meet a world demand, at the very time that it is moving forward with invading the independent country of Ukraine.
In short: we act stupidly, Ukrainians die.
Our energy policy, in other words, is not only making us poorer, causing rampant inflation, and weakening us on the world stage, it is enriching and empowering one of the only countries on earth that is willing to invade another sovereign nation based on its recognition that the only countries that could possibly stop its advance are largely dependent on it for their energy. What a bizarre circular firing squad.
This administration was importing 600,000 barrels of oil a day from Russia, an amount that could have easily been replaced by the 800,000 barrels of oil to be carried by the Keystone XL pipeline (which President Biden killed with a stroke of his pen on his first day in office).
President Biden just approved $350 million in military aid to Ukraine.
To be more blunt: we were paying for both sides of the land war currently raging across eastern Europe. All because of the misguided energy policies of this administration.
The elites in the United States and their counterparts in European have, for the last 30 years, pursued a pact of mutual destruction, hollowing out our core of energy, food, and intellectual independence. We have empowered federal agencies to make law, enforce “laws” that don’t exist, declare millions of acres of land off limits to access and production, compromised private property and water rights, and tried to convince people that we can continue to enjoy the same standard of living while destroying everything that makes that standard of living possible.
The world stage is now set: Our “liberal democracies” are dependent on totalitarian and destructive regimes, and the mad dash to try to deflect from that reality has begun. The saber-rattling, the tough talk, the genuflection to “world order” are designed to gloss over the fact that if our western democracies had not chosen to destroy our own energy independence, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
This is not complicated for those of us who have even the most basic understanding of reality. If you are dependent on another country to supply you with energy, they will control your policy. If you are dependent on another country to supply you with food, they will control your policy. If you are dependent on another country to supply you with everything that your society needs to live (pharmaceuticals, etc.), they will control your policy.
Stated even more succinctly: Energy dependence = energy insecurity; energy insecurity = instability; instability = empowerment of rogue nations.
We are not going to get out of this quagmire anytime soon. We can, however, use all of our tools to expose how those energy policies that weaken America, will ultimately strengthen countries that are willing to invade another country to expand their power.
If we want to control tyranny, we must produce our own energy. If we want to enable tyrants, we continue down the path of dependence on their energy production for our sake. The former will always work; the latter never will.