No Longer Dependent on OPEC!
by JBS President John F. McManus
New procedures for extracting oil and natural gas from the earth have skyrocketed the United States to now producing as much as comes out of Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. could soon easily eclipse the Saudis. North Dakota’s Bakken shale field is only one region where hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has made tremendous resources available. Other known locations where fracking can lead to production have yet to be tapped.
For decades, our nation has been yanked around by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Our nation’s need for energy continued to grow and our dependence on OPEC members to sell it to us has always placed the U.S. in a bind, financially and diplomatically. OPEC surely took advantage of our dependence, both in the prices Americans had to pay and in the conduct of our nation’s foreign policy. But all of that is changing.
Oil prices have been halved over the past year, much to the delight of America’s industrial sector and the millions who drive an automobile and use oil to heat their homes. Natural gas prices have likewise come down – or not risen as expected. And there seems now to be a virtually limitless supply of both types of energy within our borders.
As reported by the New York Times, Jason Bordoff, former energy adviser to President Obama and now director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, has noted that “with a global glut and prices cratering, the United States is in the driver’s seat.” All aspects of energy production have not completely changed however. The hurdle known as environmentalism remains. There are areas within the U.S. where fracking has been prohibited. Construction of the Keystone pipeline that would transport Canadian oil from its tar sands to refineries in the U.S. is still being blocked by the Obama administration due to environmental claims.
With much of the Middle East in turmoil, with U.S. supplier and OPEC member Venezuela unpredictable, and with needs for energy rising not falling, it behooves the U.S. to continue on its current path toward complete energy independence. Being independent of others for critical energy will strengthen our nation’s position financially and diplomatically. What remains to be seen is whether U.S. leaders will take advantage of this remarkable development to reassert political independence as well.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.
Oil, Ukraine, and a Sweet Deal for Putin
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Bakken energy field amounts to the largest domestic oil discovery since the one at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. Stretching over North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana (also into Canada’s Saskatchewan province), the amount of recoverable oil in this region could do away with any need to import the precious commodity. Small cities in western North Dakota have been overrun with eager job seekers who are benefitting greatly from the need for more and more workers. But there’s a need for a pipeline to transport this oil to refineries in states to the south.
Not only is the Bakken capable of releasing OPEC’s hold on our nation, additional discoveries now known to exist under the Rocky Mountain states hold an estimated three to four times what is being tapped in North Dakota and its neighbors. Shortly after beginning his second term in 2005, President George W. Bush gave the order for extracting this treasure. But nothing has been done.
The Keystone pipeline project proposes to ship crude oil from the Bakken and from Canadian oil sands projects to refineries in our nation’s southern states. But hurdles are still blocking its construction. If the Keystone pipeline were constructed, there would be no need for imports from unfriendly Venezuela and unpredictable Russia.. Yes, our nation does import oil from these two countries while also continuing to receive imports from the Middle East.
Environmental groups continue to block development of known resources and needed pipelines. Is it possible that nations who benefit financially and diplomatically from impediments placed in the way of energy independence are financing some of these environmental organizations? Also, why does our own government continue to be a hindrance rather than helping America to become independent?
On the other side of the globe, we see that energy starved Ukraine is highly dependent on Russia for natural gas. But Ukraine is also in dire financial straits, owing many billions for energy already received from its eastern neighbor. American foreign aid, supplied to Ukraine in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, ends up in the coffers of Russia’s Vladimir Putin for natural gas payments. Is this why he ordered the occupation of Crimea? Should the American people fill Putin’s pockets?
The need for oil and natural gas is obvious. But, if our nation acts in proper self-interest, America can gain release from dependence on foreign energy suppliers. Will the Obama administration continue to drag its feet on energy matters? Will the environmentalists be told to get out of the way of progress toward energy independence? Time will tell. Energy independence can be had if U.S. leaders do what good sense calls upon them to do.