Will the US Ever Achieve Energy Independence?

Depending largely on who you believe, where you’re getting your information and what you’d like to hear, the United States could be on the verge of turning completely energy independent in the near future. Or, on the other hand, it could not.

It seems as though every week a new article pops up online either detailing why the US will be energy independent in the next few years, then later claiming it’s a bit further from that, then claiming it will never happen, then claiming that it may, in fact, happen. This is because, in the most straightforward of terms, no one really knows.

The Case for Independence 

I’ve touched on the potential for America’s energy independence briefly in the past on my blog here.

The price volatility of oil has had an enormous impact on the state of the United States economy. The less we have to rely on foreign nations (primarily in the Middle East) for their oil production, the more stable our own economy can grow, further utilizing the energy sources domestically. Additionally, energy independence would theoretically solve issues regarding national security and the military. While 100 percent energy independence is quite the task, moving towards independence even short of the 100 percent metric is important nonetheless.

“For the U.S. to have more options and be more independent, it reduces our national security vulnerability and makes more oil available to the rest of the world, which enhances geopolitical stability to the rest of the world,” said Mike Ming, Oklahoma Energy Secretary.

With the oil and fracking booms that the United States has seen explode in recent years, our dependence on foreign oil is dropping drastically. Oil imports have shrunk from 61 percent in 2005 to about 28 percent in 2015. Some suggest that that number could push single-digits within the next few years. In April of 2015, some experts forecasted that the US could be independent as soon as 2019; while that may seem like a far cry from where we sit now, additional vehicles of independence, like solar power and wind power are champing at the bit to become the US’s new source of energy.

Why It May Not Happen

Some, including The Street and The Atlantic, do not see energy independence in America’s future at all. The big player in this train of thought is simple: the price of American energy. While the US is one of the three biggest oil producers in the world, we are also one of the more expensive. While Middle East OPEC countries continue to produce oil at cheaper prices, the US is wise to remain oil dependent for at least the foreseeable future. The oil market is, simply put, not stable enough for America to ever comfortable fall into complete energy independence. As one of the largest users of oil in the world as well, the US needs to first examine its usage and where that can be cut back before we can set sights on energy independence.