THE flow toward North American energy independence has at times been a trickle and at times more of an ooze. It could be more of a torrent.
It should be.
Not since the year in which Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president has the United States been free of reliance on foreign sources of energy. In 2005, U.S. consumption of foreign energy peaked at more than 60 percent. The flow in the other direction — toward greater independence — is taking place in spite of national energy policy rather than because of it.
Through extensive reporting over the past two Sundays, The Oklahoman's Jay F. Marks, Paul Monies and Adam Wilmoth have chronicled the elusive quest for energy independence. Readers have been given the views of key energy industry players, analysts and the environmental community.
We give our views today in support of a diversified, rational energy policy that will take this country (with assistance from Canada) to a place that's free of dependence on energy from hostile regions of the world.
Last January, President Barack Obama extolled an “all-of-the-above” strategy for energy policy. But his administration hasn't pursued such a strategy. It has waged a war on coal. It covets state regulation of hydraulic fracturing and other petroleum exploration and production practices. It overhypes renewable fuels.
The failure to achieve energy independence is a bipartisan failure. For 40 years, Congress and presidential administrations (including two with strong ties to the petroleum industry) have failed to move the needle toward independence.
Critics deride the current administration's policy as “none of the above.” For example, Obama has given only begrudging acknowledgement that running more vehicles on natural gas would not only benefit the environment but promote energy independence. The federal government has been laggard in converting its own fleets to compressed natural gas. The states, led by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, have taken the lead on this initiative.
Meantime, the administration has pushed the greening of America's military. This is not an unworthy pursuit, but it smacks of pandering just as the government's investment in Solyndra and similar schemes smacks of crony capitalism. As they tout wind, solar and biofuels, Obama and his cohorts pretend that fossil fuels won't continue to dominate for many years to come. The key issue is the origin point of those fuels.
Energy policy should indeed be an all-of-the-above strategy. Wind and solar should be encouraged to produce more electricity. Natural gas should be encouraged to run more cars and trucks. American coal shouldn't be left in the pits.