Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

U.S. Oil Boom 'Increases Energy Vulnerability'

Climate

Oil Change International

By Andy Rowell

As the International Energy Agency warns that world oil markets face a “bumpy ride” in the months ahead, President Obama has being trying to defend his energy policies.

His defense comes at a time when rising gas and energy production prices look increasingly likely to be become a key election issue in November, with his Republican challengers increasingly becoming vocal about oil and gas.

Obama has pointed out that U.S. oil production has increased 20 percent since he took office, after more than three decades of steady decline.

The Financial Times reports that Obama said that he had made “historic progress” in reducing reliance on foreign oil and making the U.S. a leader in “global clean energy."

But Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College takes issue with Obama’s stance in a great article in the Nation. Rather than being a leader in the clean energy revolution, America risks falling far behind.

So how did this happen?

Kare argues that “It was not very long ago that America seemed headed on a path of reduced dependence on fossil fuels—oil, coal and natural gas—and greater reliance on renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar … But Obama’s commitment to renewables has wavered in the face of relentless attacks from Republicans in Congress and the economic realities of energy production. “

Klare goes on to argue that “Obama and his Republican opponents want us to believe that the accelerated exploitation of domestic fossil fuels will enhance American national security.”

But this is a false promise. “Not only will increased reliance on domestic fossil fuels perpetuate our vulnerability to disorder in the Middle East (given the global nature of the oil market and resulting oil-price dynamics); it will also expose us to a host of other perils, ranging from drinking-water contamination to accelerated climate change," he argues.

Klare takes issue with the shale gas revolution arguing that recent estimates of how much recoverable gas there are have been downgraded and the industry faces a growing backlash in the anti-fracking movement. “The anti-fracking activism will probably not halt the expansion of shale gas production, but it will certainly reduce the number of wells, lowering total output”, he argues.

We know that all unconventional sources of oil bring greater environmental risks, whether it is water contamination from fracking or climate change from the tar sands, which the Republicans want to export to the U.S., meaning that the “likelihood of environmental catastrophe is bound to grow.”

And then Klare repeats an argument that is often made on this blog, especially by Lorne Stockman that, even if there is a mini-domestic oil and gas boom in the U.S., it will not isolate the U.S. from price shocks.

“Oil is a global commodity, so even if we obtained most of our oil from Western Hemisphere sources, we would still feel the effects of conflict elsewhere through the inevitable spikes in energy prices,” Klare writes. “Don’t expect Exxon and Chevron to give us a cheaper rate on the oil they produce here if they can sell it on international markets for twice as much—that’s just not going to happen. So we will remain just as vulnerable to international oil crises after expanding our reliance on shale oil and tar sands.”

Klare concludes that the longer we continue our fossil fuel addiction, “we will become more vulnerable over the long run, because the renewed embrace of fossil fuels will induce us to postpone the inevitable transition to a postcarbon economy.”

He finishes by saying that “Sooner or later, the economic, environmental and climate consequences of intensive fossil fuel use will force everyone on the planet to abandon reliance on these fuels in favor of climate-friendly renewables. This is not a matter of if but of when. The longer we wait, the more costly and traumatic the transition will be…”

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less