This Independence Day, Let’s Talk Energy Independence
Today we celebrate the most important day in our nation’s history, our Independence Day, when the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the day that changed us from colonists to Americans and proud citizens of the United States. Today, 236 years later, Pennsylvania is still at the forefront of the fight for our freedoms, leading the way towards energy independence through the Marcellus Shale.
As we sit down to picnics, firework displays, and celebrations of our nation’s birth, it’s important to remember we still have a ways to go before we are truly independent. We still send our service men and women into countries to secure our interests, included among them access to energy. We still import substantial amounts of oil and natural gas to supply our needs, and are still very much reliant on foreign nations to fuel our country.
Bicentennial: The Energy Crisis of the 1970s
In the 1970s, as the United States was nearing its bicentennial, we learned a hard lesson when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) placed an embargo on all oil products shipped to the United States. The result was an international energy crisis that showed just how dependent we are on other countries for our energy needs. Many reading this blog probably remember what it was like when the price of oil jumped from $3 to $12 a barrel, gas stations closed on Sundays, the government tried to keep people from putting up Christmas lights, and the price at the pump was outrageous. Tom (much older than me, of course) says he remembers taking the family to Cape Cod for a vacation and having to time his travel to fit with “even and odd” fill-up rules based on license plates, which required filling the car with gas whenever able.
The oil embargo was lifted in March 1974, but oil prices remained high, and the effects of the energy crisis lingered throughout the decade. In addition to price controls and gasoline rationing, a national speed limit was imposed and daylight saving time was adopted year-round for the period of 1974-75. Environmentalism reached new heights during the crisis, and became a motivating force behind policy making in Washington. Various acts of legislation during the 1970s sought to redefine America’s relationship to fossil fuels and other sources of energy, from the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act (passed by Congress in November 1973, at the height of the oil panic) to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 and the creation of the Department of Energy in 1977. (History Channel)
Until the fall of oil prices in the 1980s, our country focused on domestic energy sources. This included ventures into wind, solar, nuclear, and an attempt to find our oil and natural gas reserves within our borders. When prices fell, though, so did efforts to become self-sufficient for our energy needs.
Pledge to Be Energy Independent
Every president since Richard Nixon has called for the U.S. to wean itself from needing oil from unstable or unsavory countries. The nation’s new-found energy riches are likely to bring that ambition closer to reality in the next two decades, according to many forecasters.
It’s no pipe dream. The U.S. is already the world’s fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer. Counting the output from Canada and Mexico, North America is “the new Middle East,” Citigroup analysts declare in a recent report.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency says U.S. oil imports will drop 20% by 2025. Oil giant BP projects the U.S. will get 94% of its energy domestically by 2030, up from 77% now, as oil imports fall by half. (USA Today, 5/15/2012)
Take a look at this video reviewing our efforts over the last 4 decades.
In the early 21st century, Americans continue to rely heavily on foreign oil. The United States consumes about 20 million of the roughly 80 million barrels of oil consumed daily in the world, and three-fifths of that is imported.
Today, we are still trying to gain our energy independence, and the reality of doing so has never been more promising. With the technology now available to produce gas and oil from our own shale reserves, our country is experiencing the lowest natural gas prices in the world and an abundance of fuel sources right beneath our feet. We’ve come a long way from the Energy Crisis of the 1970s.
As we move forward in our efforts to become truly independent, we see strides being made in CNG vehicles and fueling stations, out-dated power plants being converted to natural gas produced at home, and a revitalization of American manufacturing. We are in a position to be a world market player and exporter, rather than importing the resources we need to support our society and economy. The movement to become energy independent is truly a movement to bring back the “American Made” label.
The best news is this movement is being led right here in the Marcellus Shale. Pennsylvania is already a leader in our energy independence and New York will soon play a role as well in the revitalization of our national economy and energy security.
I believe that the United States can and should use its vast natural resources to end its risky addiction to OPEC oil. I recognize the promise natural gas holds for changing how we power our homes, cook our food and fuel our vehicles. I know that a cleaner future is within our reach. I hereby join thousands of my fellow Americans who say now is the time to declare our energy independence.
We also welcome you to comment below on your memories from the 1970’s Energy Crisis and ways you are working to help our country become energy independent. And of course, have a safe, happy Fourth of July!