Revisting Energy Independence (Again and Again)

By Anna Simet | July 03, 2014

Being that it’s the day before the U.S. Independence Day, I figured a blog on energy independence, although cliché, is befitting.

Thinking about this, it reminded me of a clip I saw on the Daily Show with John Stewart, some time back.  In it, Stewart pokes fun at how presidential speeches on energy, for the last 40-plus years, have all been the same. He plays clips of Obama, Clinton, both Bushes, Carter, Regan, Eisenhower and Nixon, all saying the same things:

“The time to improve our environment is now.”

“We must make our dependence on foreign oil a thing of the past.”

“We need a long-term energy strategy to maximize the use of alternative energy.” (Solar, wind turbines, wood chips, switchgrass, hydro, ethanol not just from corn, methanol…all are mentioned.)

In one clip, Nixon sets a goal to be free of foreign oil imports by 1980. That number changes with each president—George W. Bush sets the goal as 2025.

As the U.S. comes closer to being the top producer of oil in the world—the U.S. EIA has predicted that to happen within the next few years—it will be near energy self-sufficiency within two more decades.

Finally. That’s amazing.


That feat may only be temporary. Estimates say that by there are about 1.3 trillion barrels of proven oil reserve left in the world’s major fields, which at present rates of consumption will be sufficient to last 40 more years. And by 2040, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, production levels may be down to 15 million barrels per day—around 20 percent of what we currently consume. It’s also likely by then that the world’s population will be twice as large, and more countries will have become industrialized oil users.  

So then what?

Well, while we continue to capitalize on our fossil resources from home, rather than drawing on Middle Eastern supplies, we need to continue that pursuit of other sources of energy. The ones the presidents have been talking about for many decades.

We are doing it now, but we need to continue, and more aggressively.

Biomass energy and all that it encompasses, as well as the whole lot of other renewable and cleaner, alternative energy technologies out there, need to play a significant role in this.

And even if we don’t run out of oil, which some skeptics assert is the case, it brings us back to yet another presidential energy speech cliché that is…we really need to do this for the environment.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July.