American energy independence has been a long sought after goal of US policy. Americans are dependent on foreign fuel to supplement their energy trade deficit, but that may not always be the case. Advances in technology have made the U.S. closer to energy independence than ever before.
The History of Oil
Since the 70s OPEC has almost exclusively set the price of oil. OPEC, also known as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was established in 1960 at the Baghdad Conference by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.1 Subsequently the United States’ main energy source was heavily reliant on relations with these countries.
In recent times U.S. energy production has surged due to advances in technology such as fracking that has made previously difficult to access areas more economical to pursue. According to a recent report in Bloomberg, the production of oil in the United States may increase by 17 percent to a record 10.24 million barrels a day by next year2. “Fracking” or hydraulic fracturing is not without controversy. Environmentalists warn that fracking could pose threats to our environment including depleting and polluting our water supplies.3
Americans are Using Less Gas
In addition to an increase in supply, Americans are expected to decrease their consumption of gasoline due to increasingly fuel efficient vehicles. But when will oil consumption actually hit its peak? It’s difficult to predict, as there are many factors involved. An improved economy could foreseeably boost demand more than the fuel savings of new energy efficient technologies could offset.
Closing the Gap
There is little consensus as to where we should obtain the remaining energy needed to close our gap in energy independence. Environmentalists propose that clean energy such as solar and wind power provide a long term solution towards both energy independence and sustainability. Benefits of clean renewal energy sources include reduced air and water pollution, no significant impact on water supplies, and an inexhaustible supply of energy. Others believe that increasing fossil fuel production and traditional energy sources are the cheapest and most efficient way to close the gap.
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