AP GOV energy independence

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  • 8/11/2019 AP GOV energy independence

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    Ever since the energy crisis in the 70s, the United States dependency on foreign oil has

    been on the policy agenda. After the industrial revolution, the role of electricity and energy has

    increased significantly in the United States and now governs many everyday activities from

    transportation to computing. The omnipresence of energy in todays society has increased the

    ability for energy producers, such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

    (OPEC), to gain tremendous power over the United States. Since energy dependency generally

    refers to the dependency on oil, the issue arises in areas where petroleum is the dominant source

    of energy. In order to effectively combat foreign energy dependency, the United States should

    increase the production and efficiency of petroleum, as well as fund technology for decreasing

    the use of petroleum in the upcoming decades.

    The main issue behind the United States energy dependency is the reliance on oil, which

    the United States currently cannot produce enough of to match demand, and has to therefore rely

    on foreign sources. As of 2012, the United States only produced 60% of oil consumed

    domestically, which led to an estimated $2 trillion dollar loss during the second term of the Bush

    Administration due to OPEC price manipulation.1The ability of a foreign organization to

    significantly manipulate the US economy signifies how much of an issue energy dependency is

    in modern society. 95% of the petroleum usage in the United States is contributed mostly to the

    transportation sector (72%) and industry (23%).2 This is very difficult to change as virtually the

    entire capital infrastructure of the countryroads and highways, electric power plants,

    transmission lines, airlines, shipping, steel, chemicals, construction, and home heating and

    1Reduce Oil Dependence Costs, last modified April 23, 2014, http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/oildep.shtml.2Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2012, U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessedApril 25, 2014, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/#consumption.

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    coolingdepends on fossil fuels.3This dependency makes the United States extremely

    susceptible to the manipulation of petroleum producing countries and organizations, yet the

    United States appears, at least on paper, to be close to solving this issue. As of April 18th, 2014,

    the United States exported about 1.6 million barrels per day of petroleum products, yet still

    imported 7.7 million barrels of crude oil per day.4Due to the current increase in fracking, some

    are optimistic that the United States will be a complete net exporter of oil by 2020.5However, it

    is important to note that oil production from fracking, which contributed to about 30% of the oil

    produced in the United States in 2013, decreases about 70% per site after the first year.6Even

    without the environmental issues of fracking (which will be discussed later), the current surge of

    oil produced is only a short term solution and will not ultimately solve the issue of energy

    dependency in the long run.

    Since the main use of oil, which is the principal cause of energy dependency, is in the

    transportation sector, the issue is mostly focused in transportation fuels. While there are many

    alternatives to oil for transportation, these alternative fuels either have a negative public image

    (due to environmental impact), or are not efficient enough with current technology, to

    significantly decrease dependence on petroleum. While the United States has a large reserve of

    natural gas, the controversial process of extracting it (through fracking) is not widely approved

    of since the process results in elevated levels of arsenic in water supplies near fracking sites,a

    3

    Robert U. Ayres and Edward Ayres, Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving From Fossil Fuel Dependence to aClean-Energy Future(New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2009), 1.4Petroleum and Other Liquids: Weekly Imports and Exports, U.S. Energy Information Administration, lastmodified April 23, 2014, http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_wkly_dc_NUS-Z00_mbblpd_w.htm.5Paul Davidson, U.S. May Be Inching Toward Oil Independence, USA Today, February 9, 2014, accessed April26, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/02/07/falling-oil-imports/5268819/.6Asjylyn Loder, U.S Shale-Oil Boom May Not Last as Fracking Wells Lack Staying Power, BloombergBusinessweek: Global Economics, October 10, 2013, accessed April 26, 2014,http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-10/u-dot-s-dot-shale-oil-boom-may-not-last-as-fracking-wells-lack-staying-power.

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    possibility of earthquakes, as well as other water contaminants.7This ultimately leaves green

    energy, which accounts for less than 5 percent of energy used for transportation.8While this

    number has been increasing in the past decade, the energy attributed by renewable energy is still

    fairly insignificant in decreasing the dependency on petroleum in transportation. The efficiency

    and production of green energy is crippled by current technology as eventhe fastest conceivable

    growth of wind, solar, and other renewable-energy industries cannot substantially replace oil,

    coal, and natural gas for at least several decades.9Since the one source of energy with the

    largest public approval cannot be effectively implemented, legislation dealing with energy is

    very controversial and difficult to pass. Also, since the technology needs to be developed before

    renewable energy can become a viable source of energy, Congress would have to increase

    spending for something that does not yield immediate results, which would be hard to pass

    legislation for with the current budget deficit issue.

    Since energy dependency is an ongoing issue, the first step is to create a temporary, short

    term solution by immediately increasing oil production. This is currently being implemented, as

    United States crude oil production has increased 700 million barrels in two years, which is a 35%

    increase from the 2011 production levels of 2 billion barrels per year.10As a result, in just eight

    years, the U.S. has more than halved its dependence on energy imports due to an increase in

    fracking.11It is important to emphasize, however, that this needs to be only a temporary solution.

    The solution of increasing supply to keep up with the domestic demand of oil should not be

    7Clay Naff, Can Fracking Lead the Way to Clean Energy?Humanist, March-April 2014, 12, accessed April 22,2014. SIRS Issues Researcher.8Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2012.9Ayres and Ayres, Crossing the Energy Divide, 1.10Petroleum and Other Liquids: U.S. Field Production of Crude Oil, U.S. Energy Information Administration, lastmodified September 27, 2013, http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mcrfpus1&f=a.11Anna Bernasek, Two Numbers: Americas Energy Jolt,Newsweek, January 17, 2014, accessed April 21, 2014.Opposing Viewpoints in Context (GALE|A355849767).

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    relied on as energy usage will only increase in the upcoming decades, as well as the fact that the

    method of increasing energy production, fracking, is considerably harmful to the environment

    and other natural resources such as fresh water. Therefore, there needs to be a balance between

    oil production and environmental impacts, which can be achieved by creating oil production

    legislation that includes a sunset clause, or alimit on how long the increased levels of oil

    production can continue for.

    A more viable step that should be taken to decrease the United States foreign oil

    dependence is increasing the efficiency of petroleum in transportation and industry. One simple

    way of increasing efficiency of petroleum in transportation is by increasing the Environmental

    Protection Agencys (EPA) miles per gallon (mpg) acceptance level on a yearly basis to

    encourage efficiency. The EPA currently has a plan to reduce Americas dependence on oil by

    more than 2 million barrels per day in 2025 by increasingthe required passenger vehicle mpg

    standards to an estimated 54.5 mpg by 2025, since passenger vehicles account for 60% of

    petroleum used in transportation.12This is a good start to increasing efficiency of petroleum use,

    yet it is important to also provide monetary incentives and funding for reaching these limits

    rather than just creating a new mandated level. The solution of increasing efficiency is not an

    immediate solution, yet it is faster in decreasing petroleum dependence than renewable energy as

    little or no ingenious new technology is needed.13Increasing the energy produced per fuel

    consumed will decrease the amount of petroleum used in both transportation and industry, but it

    will still not remove our dependence on oil.

    12Regulations and Standards: Light-Duty, United States Environmental Protection Agency, last modified April25, 2014,http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regs-light-duty.htm.13Ayres and Ayres, Crossing the Energy Divide, 6-8.

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    The ultimate long term solution for eliminating energy dependency on foreign oil is to

    simply switch to other renewable fuels instead of petroleum. While the public generally

    encourages the principle