Assumptions about America’s energy policy are rapidly being called into question, due to four recent or ongoing events, including:
- The potential serious disruption of oil supplies from the increasingly tumultuous middle east. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz to dissuade the west from taking firm action against that nation’s nuclear weapons development, as well as engaging in activities meant to address issues with Iranian allies such as Syria.
- The tepid state of the American economy, made worse by increasing energy prices. Exceptionally high unemployment is one of the prime examples of this.
- Recent revised climatological information (including that contained in a leaked preview of an upcoming United Nations report) about global warming, which indicate that for the past two decades the problem has been, at best, overestimated; and
- A dramatic increase in discovered domestic energy resources.
When George W. Bush left office, gasoline cost consumers $1.78 per gallon. The current average price is $3.89, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Since 2008, the average price for electricity for individuals, commercial enterprises, and industrial users have all risen, despite a weak economy and the discovery of vast new energy resources.
President Obama predicated his 2008 desire for fuel cost increases based on supply and environmental assumptions that have turned out to be obsolete or incorrect.
According to a variety of American, Russian and United Nations reports, the planet may be in a cooling trend that could last until midcentury, due to reduced solar activity. In fact, the Arctic ice sheet has been expanding, not contracting. According to satellite imagery, ice coverage as of August has increased over 60% since the prior year. This may negate the need for strict regulations on coal, a rsource the US has in abundance.
The White House has heavily invested, both politically and through stimulus funds, in renewable energy based largely on environmental beliefs that don't pass scrutiny. While further developments of renewables makes sense, the reality is that in 2012 they accounted for just about 9% of total U.S. energy consumption and 12% of electricity generation.
Dramatic increases in supply, not even counting known but untapped resources such as those in Alaska or offshore, have been discovered. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the US has three times the amount of natural gas, and twice the amount of oil, as previously thought.
According to the International Energy Agency, America has the potential to become the kingpin of energy suppliers, producing more than either Russia or Saudi Arabia within the next 15 years. By 2030, the United States could be exporting energy. The net boon to the economy in employment and eliminating the approximately $450 billion spent on imported oil could be vast.
However, the combined net effect of the President’s policy of keeping resources on federal lands untapped, “waging war” on coal, passing strict (critics say unnecessary) regulations in energy production, and the pressure from his supporters to limit hydrofracking could produce a far different result, particularly in light of the unreliability of international suppliers.
Similarly, difficulties in licensing new nuclear power plants and proceeding with plans for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel rods has prevented that source of energy from living up to its true potential. Domestic supply is vital, since the explosive situation in the middle east and in maritime transit routes both in that region and beyond, as well as Russia’s demonstrated proclivity to aggressively use its energy resources as a tool of its foreign policy, make international sources for the U.S. and especially its allies highly questionable.