Energy independence: Politics, prices have kept U.S. from energy independence

BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: October 8, 2012
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It seems everyone knows who is to blame for the United States' failure to maximize its energy resources to become independent of imports: the government.

Oil and natural gas industry officials have been critical of the Obama administration for its attempts to regulate the industry and limit ability to explore government lands for additional resources, while advocates for renewable resources complain the government still caters too much to fossil fuel producers.

That divide shows no sign of closing, as both sides insist they don't want the government to decide a winner in the energy debate.

Meanwhile the struggle between “oilies” and “greenies” likely will continue as it has since President Richard Nixon first talked about weaning the United States off foreign oil almost four decades ago.

Politicians since that time have promised energy independence but none has made much progress in getting the country there.

Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens said a ready supply of cheap gasoline has kept the U.S. from making a move to become energy independent.

“It was cheap enough they didn't care where you got it. They just kept taking it from OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries),” he said. “Today, politicians say, ‘I'm trying to use natural gas for heavy-duty trucks, but I can't force them to choose a winner.' OK.

“If you don't pick a winner, you pick OPEC.”

Pickens said there are only two ways to fuel the country's transportation needs: either continue relying on OPEC crude or embrace his plan to switch the nation's trucking fleet to natural gas.

“You can only replace diesel with natural gas. You can't do it with a battery. A battery can't move an 18 wheeler,” he said. “So you just have two fuels. One of them is ours, one of them is theirs. That tells you they don't know what they're talking about when they say I just want them to pick winners.”

Pickens insists energy independence could be coming for North America, not just the United States.

He has suggested a North American energy alliance with Mexico and Canada.

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