U.S. Must Continue to Pursue Energy Independence

The U.S. can't afford to see gas prices rise.

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Lawmakers are being urged to raise the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gasoline tax.

Gregg Laskoski is a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com

To say that the United States is taking definitive steps toward energy autonomy is not hyperbole any more. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected earlier this year that the "U.S. dependence on imported petroleum liquids declines primarily as a result of growth in domestic oil production by more than 1 million barrels per day by 2020; an increase in biofuels use to more than 1 million barrels per day crude oil equivalent by 2024; and modest growth in transportation sector demand through 2035. Net petroleum imports as a share of total U.S. liquid fuels consumed drop from 49 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2035." The agency goes on to say that proposed fuel economy standards covering vehicle model years 2017 through 2025 would further reduce the need for petroleum imports.

[See a collection of political cartoons on energy policy.]

Energy independence will come from rich resources such as the Marcellus shale formation in the east and the Bakken oil fields in the Dakotas. Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners says the Bakken crude oil formation in North Dakota will produce as much as 1.2 million barrels of oil per day within the next five years.

Moreover, with the economic viability of Canada's oil sands supported by rising world oil prices and advances in production technology, Energy Information Administration projects that Canada's production will reach 5 million barrels per day in 2035. And despite recent obstacles, many industry observers consider the Keystone Pipeline's access to the United States as just a matter of time.

Mexico, too, has a bullish outlook and for good reason.  Bloomberg reports that Pemex, the state-run oil company and world's fourth largest oil producer, has discovered three deep-water deposits in recent months in the Gulf of Mexico with an estimated 26.5 billion barrels of untapped crude. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on gas prices.]

The potential now and in coming years for the United States and Canada, its primary fuel supplier, and Mexico, its second largest provider of imported oil, to unilaterally reduce OPEC influence on global crude oil prices is within reach. Cooperation to nullify the disruptive effects of crude oil price hikes and consequent retail gasoline price increases should be developed as a priority for both the economic growth and national security of all three. 

Does it make sense in a democratic, 'free market' system for government to support affordable energy? Would it be prudent for the United States to pursue initiatives that might keep gas prices stable?    

According to the Christian Science Monitor, every 10 cent rise per gallon in gas prices costs the U.S. economy $11 billion. That's real money. Can we afford to watch it slip away?

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