“No blood for oil!” was the chant 30 years ago in opposition to the pending Persian Gulf War.  Opponents of going to war in the Middle East did not want American soldiers to die for the free flow of oil at market prices which sustained America’s economy and living standards.

The United States has steadily become energy independent in recent years, but our dependence on foreign oil may soon return.

American conflicts in the Middle East for oil have become far less likely since the U.S. produces much more of its oil and natural gas. While the nation still imports oil, America’s domestic production and exports of petroleum have resulted in the lowest net imports since 1954, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

No longer is the U.S. dependent on foreign oil imports, most of which came from Arab nations in southwest Asia, and which influenced so much of our foreign and military policies for two generations.

America’s dependence on foreign oil may not be a thing of the past. We may become dependent on imports if the latest “Green New Deal” climate proposal from the Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders Unity Task Force takes effect.

The Biden-Bernie climate plan would sharply curtail oil and natural gas development and expand “renewable” energy mandates. For example, the plan proposes to eliminate net new carbon emissions from power plants in 15 years and all net new carbon emissions by 2050. One way to fulfill this goal is the proposed ban on development of oil and gas on federal lands.

The problem with implementing these promises is that “renewable” energy from wind, solar, batteries and biomass will not replace fossil fuels that quickly, if ever.  As filmmaker Michael Moore reminded us, renewable energy is dependent on fossil fuels, both for its manufacture and operation.

What happens when fossil fuel production is shutdown to meet mandatory usage quotas for solar and wind energy? Several things will occur, as California reminds us, including blackouts and brownouts, higher energy prices and reliance on imported fuel to meet energy demand. California in 2019 imported millions of barrels of oil from other nations, even though it could access more such energy from within its state borders (putting more Americans to work), and off its long Pacific coastline.

Other states with green energy plans have closed off or will ban energy sources from within, only to purchase more energy from other states. For example, New York has long purchased fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania even as it maintains a ban on fracking its vast upstate shale deposits.

Nationwide Green New Deal mandates that close off oil, gas and nuclear energy sources will necessarily force greater energy imports from other countries to power our cars, homes and businesses since renewable sources cannot make up the loss.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) last week warned in a report that if the Biden-Bernie energy proposals take effect, one million American energy jobs would be lost as early as 2022, the U.S. will increase importation of oil by two million barrels daily by 2030, and household energy costs will increase by cumulatively by $19 billion by then.

It may seem easy to dismiss admonitions about banning domestic energy from an organization that represents fossil fuel interests. But shooting the messenger does not dispel the logic and implications of the laws of economics in that less fossil fuel energy development, explicit in the Biden-Bernie plan, means fewer domestic jobs, more oil imports and higher energy costs for American consumers.

When “renewable” energy fails to make up the loss from fossil fuel sources, the energy has to come from somewhere – except this is no longer about one state “importing” energy from another. Rather, it’s America having to significantly increase energy imports and become dependent again on other nations.

America’s decades-long political and military involvement in the Middle East was primarily about two issues: protecting Israel against its Arab and Persian enemies and accessing sufficient oil supplies to sustain its economy and middle class. Thousands of American G.I.s have died in this effort.

Times have changed for the better: Israel is making formal and informal peace with more Arab countries and America is no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil since we produce enough of our own.

The API report has documented a legitimate economic warning from producing less domestic energy.  Renewable energy can and should be developed, but it need not be at the price of millions of American jobs, higher energy costs, renewed dependence on foreign oil, and the risk of ensuing military conflict.

Author

  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Gov. George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26.