How many times over the past 40 years have you heard politicians utter the words “energy independence” with wishful tones and yearning hearts, as if it were a Mars landing?
Energy independence has long been one of the few goals shared by members of both political parties, yet success consistently eluded even our most effective leaders.
Like promising to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, it was one of those establishment politician boxes to check by both Republicans and Democrats for decades, but not one of them delivered.
What if I told you that America has effectively achieved that long-sought goal, but that somehow, it’s being left out of the national conversation? You would probably find it strange that such a momentous accomplishment isn’t front-page news.
And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening. With little to no fanfare, the Department of Energy recently projected that America will become a net energy-exporting nation in 2020 for the first time since 1953, when our addiction to foreign oil began.
For well over half a century, America’s roles in both the world economy and global diplomacy were shaped to a significant extent by our crippling dependence on oil and gas from hostile regimes in the Middle East, Russia, and now Venezuela.
That’s no longer the case, though — increased domestic energy production means that America’s destiny is once again in our own hands.
This was neither a short-term project nor a partisan endeavor. Presidents of both parties have striven for energy independence since the days of the 1970s oil shocks. Even President Barack Obama, who notoriously declared “war” on the coal industry, took steps toward energy independence during his administration — and was widely praised by the media for doing so.
But now that President Donald Trump has brought the big prize within our grasp, journalists and pundits have suddenly decided that energy independence isn’t such a big deal, after all.
The partisanship at play here is frustratingly transparent. The Democrat presidential candidates who are hoping to challenge Trump next year have placed climate change at the forefront of their campaigns, putting them in direct conflict with the goal of energy independence because they view American energy production as a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s as though they believe that oil and gas produced in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela is magically cleaner and better for the climate than our own.
In reality, America’s strides toward energy independence have been accompanied by a reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions, partly because the fracking boom is allowing us to responsibly transition from coal-fired power plants to cleaner-burning natural gas plants.
There’s absolutely nothing about the job-creating engine of the American energy industry that inherently increases global greenhouse emissions or hampers the development of lower-emission energy sources.
To the contrary, the availability of cheap, abundant natural gas has largely negated the trade-off between reducing emissions and growing the economy, allowing us to pursue both goals simultaneously.
With the 2020 presidential race on everyone’s mind, though, don’t expect the left to give President Trump any credit for accomplishing the half-century-old American economic goal of energy independence.
Yet, it is truly a very big deal indeed for America’s standing in the world, enhancing our ability to grow our economy and promote peace in otherwise conflict-ridden regions.
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