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U.S. Energy Independent By 2035?

Could Be A Boon To U.S. Foreign, Energy Policies


U.S. Energy Independent By 2035?

An oil well near Taft, California, in 2008. The International Energy Agency reports that the U.S. could be energy independent by 2035, something that would be a boon to American foreign policy.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
Updated November 16, 2012

If you visit the U.S. State Department's website for energy security, you will find this statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the top of the page:

"Energy cuts across the entirety of U.S. foreign policy. It's a matter of national security and global stability. It's at the heart of the global economy. It's also an issue of democracy and human rights."

That gets straight to the point, and it's nothing you didn't already know -- to the United States, energy is everything.

Thus, Americans from President Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton on down to the average guy at the gas pump may be able to take heart in a November 12, 2012, statement from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that says, simply, the U.S. is headed for energy self-sufficiency.

Yes, American energy independence.

IEA Findings

In its 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the IEA dramatically reports that "extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows." That means the U.S. will begin exporting more energy that it imports.

In other predictions, the IEA said "the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035."

That's a critical statement. Obviously, energy independence is the overall goal, but the notion of being independent from Middle Eastern oil harkens back to the Energy Crisis of 1973-74. More than a few critics have seen U.S. foreign policy -- including the Gulf War of 1991 and the just-ended Iraq War -- in the Middle East as more about energy resources than national sovereignty or democracy.

Certainly, energy independence will give all of American foreign policy a more objective edge.

Among other findings, the IEA reports that:

  • Fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy sources between now and 2035, with oil prices reaching $125 per barrel.
  • Natural gas will continue to boom, with demand increasing by 50% by 2035. The U.S., Australia, and China will lead the way, as advances in fracking -- releasing natural gas from shale by hydraulic methods -- make natural gas more accessible.
  • Renewables will become the second leading source of "power generation" by 2015, and they will rival coal for the top spot by 2035.

U.S., Australia Recommit To Renewables

Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton, on a trip to Australia, met with that country's Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson. The two pledged to redouble efforts to utilize renewable resources.

"We have agreed today [November 15, 2012] to launch a new dialogue between our two governments focused on energy security and supply, boosting bilateral investment and regional cooperation, developing clean energy technologies, and promoting best practices in the energy sector," said Clinton.

Ferguson noted that, "We're . . . going to look to further strengthen our cooperation on renewables - clean energy, which is important to the U.S. and to Australia. Our focus is on innovation, how we partner both at a research level and at an investment level, develop export opportunities for countries that are not as energy rich as Australia and the United States."

President Obama is a champion of renewable energy, and proponents of renewables see his reelection November 6, 2012, as an open door for more advances in renewable and clean energy.

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