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'Energy Independence' Alone Won’t Boost U.S. Power

Author: Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Adjunct Senior Fellow
February 14, 2013


"We are finally poised to control our own energy future," said President Barack Obama in his State of the Union message, noting the drastic increase in American energy production from unconventional oil and gas resources.

Controlling our energy future means more than just producing a greater amount of our own energy. It also means harnessing this energy renaissance to meet our global geopolitical needs. We've begun to reap the many economic benefits this boom brings -- such as easing the trade deficit and lowering carbon emissions. But we have only started to appreciate how this energy renaissance affects our larger strategic environment. And, not surprisingly, many readers of the tea leaves have confused reality with desire, by hoping more energy at home will mean keeping out of the volatile politics and economics of the Middle East.

First, the facts. A tremendous increase in the production of shale gas means the U.S. no longer anticipates decades of growing natural gas imports, but has the capacity to meets its own needs for decades and possibly even to export. Increases in oil production in the U.S. and Canada have been equally surprisingly; many analysts, in the words of a Citigroup Inc. reportthis week, anticipate "North American energy independence" by 2020.

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