Energy Tribune

About two and a half years ago, I published my third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence,” which provided multiple arguments as to why the US cannot, and should not even attempt to, be independent of the world’s single biggest and most important marketplace: the global energy market.

And yet, since that time, numerous politicians from both the right and the left have declared their support for that cockeyed notion.

Just last week, the White House issued a press release which declared that President Barack Obama’s signing of the stimulus package in February 2009, included “measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure” and “enhance energy independence.” On August 11, the president gave a speech in which he said that said that “we’re investing in a clean energy industry and the jobs that come with it -– jobs that pay well and carry America to a cleaner, more secure and more energy-independent future.”

In June, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement on the importance of biofuels, stating that “renewable energy development not only promotes energy independence; the regional strategy I’ve outlined sets the stage for job creation in rural communities that are often located in distressed areas and persistent poverty counties.”

The corn ethanol scammers are among the most persistent promoters of the notion of energy independence. Growth Energy, an ethanol industry lobby group, says that increasing the amount of ethanol in the US gasoline supply from 10% to 15%, will “increase our energy independence.” And it even has this “E15 fact” which says “We will achieve energy independence sooner with E15.” The group also says “We believe that an energy independent America is achievable and ethanol is the most important first step to making it a reality.”

I won’t go through all of the arguments I made in Gusher of Lies. Instead, I’ll let Anthony Cordesman, the security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, make my argument. Last week, Cordesman wrote a piece in which he outlined the reasons why, in his opinion, the US must maintain a strong military presence in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, his analysis of the global oil market is exactly right:

It does not matter where the US get its oil from on any given day. The US competes in a world market driven by total world supply and pays world prices. If a crisis occurs in the Gulf, the US will compete at the same increase in prices as every other importing nation, if world price rise on a longer-term basis, the US will pay for the same increase, and if supplies are cut by a major conflict, the US must share the oil left for import with other OECD states.

The global energy market is the single biggest, most important, most integrated, most transparent, market ever created. The idea that the US – the world’s single biggest energy producer and energy consumer – should attempt to secede from that market is ludicrous on its face.

The fact that the White House and certain subsidy-seeking factions are continuing to use the phrase “energy independence” is an unfortunate reminder of the near-total poverty of our national discussions about energy and power.

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