We need to use our newfound energy leverage to cause some oil “shocks” of our own.
By Frank Gaffney, Jr., originally published on October 14, 2013, at the Center for Security Policy:
Ever since, politicians of both parties
have promised to reduce our dependency on unreliable foreign sources.
To that end over the past four decades, they have invested untold sums
on various schemes – from imposing price controls, producing synthetic
fuels and subsidizing ethanol production, curbing demand and
diversifying overseas sources of supply for oil and natural gas.
largely to private sector initiatives and funds, however, real progress
has lately been made on this longstanding national objective. Finally,
the widespread application of technology like horizontal drilling and
hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) and a series of
discoveries of vast quantities of natural gas around the United States
and off its coasts have transformed our situation from one of energy
dependency to potentially that of the largest energy exporter in the
The geopolitical and economic significance of
this transformation will be the focus of conferences sponsored by two
influential, bipartisan groups in Washington this week. Former Cabinet
and sub-Cabinet officers, senior military personnel and other experts
will convene on Tuesday under the auspices of the U.S. Energy Security
Council and on Wednesday under that of Securing America’s Future Energy
(SAFE) to discuss the oil embargo, the intervening years and where we
are today vis a vis those who used energy as an economic weapon against
us in the past.
It is very much to be hoped that these
conversations will not simply repeat nostrums about the inadvisability
of being dependent upon unreliable – to say nothing of actually hostile –
energy sources. Or, worse yet, simply revel in the change of fortunes
that will, in the absence of further Obama administration
obstructionism, enable us to become again a huge net producer of
energy. (Regrettably, between its pursuit of cap-and-trade restrictions
on carbon emissions, overreaching EPA regulations, the campaign to
destroy the coal industry and further shenanigans with respect to the
Keystone XL pipeline, there is ample reason to expect more official
impediments to our energy security, not fewer.)
What is needed now is a strategic approach to using our newfound energy leverage to cause some oil “shocks” of our own.
starters, the windfall of natural gas deposits being found in this
country opens up an opportunity to transform the sector in which we are
still almost entirely dependent on oil and its byproducts: the
transportation of people and goods via automobiles, busses and trucks.
If natural gas can become widely used in eighteen-wheelers and turned
into methanol for use in most modern cars, we could dramatically reduce
the amount of gasoline we are obliged to import from the Islamists of
What is more, as Nobel laureate George Olah
observed in an op.ed. article he co-authored in the Wall Street Journal
last week, recent breakthroughs in chemistry are allowing another vast
U.S. resource – carbon dioxide – to be cost-effectively converted into
methanol. Far better to burn it in our automobiles and in modified
surface transportation and maritime diesel engines than to pay
exorbitant sums, as Team Obama has in mind, to try to store it
Best of all, by enabling these
alternatives to oil and gasoline to become available across America, we
can create fuel choice for consumers – and competition for the
cartelists. The predictable effect would be to drive oil prices down,
especially as the scores of other developing nations capable of
manufacturing their own alternatives to gasoline begin to do so, as
Brazil has already done with ethanol.
The result could
be to break the back of OPEC, once and for all. That, in turn, would
help dry up the funding that has done so much for decades to power
jihadism and undermine our economy.
This is no longer
simply a desirable thing to do. It is absolutely imperative. As Center
for Security Policy Senior Fellow Kevin Freeman has observed, Mideast
oil producers seem determined to join the Chinese and Russians, among
others, in terminating the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s
international reserve currency. Should they succeed in this gambit, the
profound and debilitating economic and strategic ramifications will
make the oil shock of forty years ago look like the good old days.
bipartisan Open Fuel Standard legislation and taking such other steps
as are necessary to enable fuel choice can help us withstand as well
disruptions in oil supply and/or skyrocketing price increases in the
event of a new regional war in the Middle East. We can and must be in a
position to deliver the next oil shock, not be its recipient.
Gaffney is the Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy
in Washington, D.C. Under Mr. Gaffney's leadership, the Center has been
nationally and internationally recognized as a resource for timely,
informed and penetrating analyses of foreign and defense policy matters.
Mr. Gaffney formerly acted as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Policy during the Reagan Administration,
following four years of service as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy. Previously, he was a
professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee under
the chairmanship of the late Senator John Tower, and a national security
legislative aide to the late Senator Henry M. Jackson.