Should energy independence be a high priority in the US?
Previously published on March 14, 2008
The notion of energy independence is not just an economic issue, but a national security and environmental concern. Furthermore, as the world has undergone sever damage from human activities, a need for a lower to no carbon emissions fuel source to replace petroleum use is necessary. As such, the Nation has all to gain by becoming independent of OPEC and oil in general. Although it is very important for the United States to become independent when it comes to energy, in doing so, the Nation must not overlook the consequences of poor investment strategies.
With rising gas prices, among other energy costs, the American economy is under huge pressure that limits the spending of consumers as well as increases the cost of goods sold in the United States. Furthermore, as foreign nations set production levels for petroleum, they determine the cost of all oil byproducts and, as America consumes the most oil, this leaves the American economy under the direct influence of foreign nations. Additionally, the flow of energy is a constant need, and so, any disruption can severely hinder the economy and day to day life of Americans while national security officials, as well as military forces, cannot operative without fuel. Frankly, unlike places such as Europe, America has no transportation infrastructure outside of automotives which require a constant supply of gasoline. If America was cut off from its oil supply for any protracted period of time, the United States would be crippled.
There truly is a need to become independent of foreign sources of energy, but in doing so the Nation must be smart. Even though ideas like the use of ethanol can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a fuel for cars, they may not be good solutions to replace all the products of petroleum; furthermore, current ethanol production methods are inadequate to meet demand, though they certainly will lead to higher food costs. The energy sources of the future must be able to address all our energy needs and the application of that energy while working to improve the environment. Once America has chosen it energy sources, the infrastructure required to deliver it must be build at a significant investment, which will decrease the chance of shifting to a better source if the one we choose is the wrong one.
Technology that runs off of electricity is widespread and can replace much of the petroleum fueled technology while the infrastructure for delivering electricity already exists. Albeit there are advantages that many technologies have over electricity, with innovation across the board, electricity can become a cleaner, cheaper, and superior energy source. Furthermore, energy independence is necessary, but independence does not mean we cannot share with the world and vice versa; it means we do not have to rely on the rest of the world for energy if necessary.