For ‘Energy Dominance’ plan to work, we need alternatives to oil

It’s “Energy Week,” and the Trump administration has been touting U.S. potential to achieve international dominance thanks to American-made sources for power generation and transportation fuel.

This is a productive debate for the country. But the goal of achieving American self-reliance in energy can only be attained if we make better use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel for our cars, trucks and SUVs. The reason? We use nothing but domestic resources to make electricity — natural gas; coal; nuclear; wind and solar — but we grudgingly accept that it’s not that way for transportation. If we’re being honest with ourselves, at the current consumption rate for oil, we may never achieve independence.

As Bloomberg Business noted:

The U.S. is on track to produce 10 million barrels of oil per day on average next year, according to a forecast from the Energy Information Administration — a milestone that would shatter a record set in 1970.

Yet we consume 15 million barrels of oil a day for transportation. That means we have to import oil to make up the shortfall. As John Hofmeister, former president of the Shell Oil Company and a member of Fuel Freedom’s board of advisors and directors, said in our 2014 documentary PUMP: “If we rely upon our own domestic production of crude oil to try to produce enough, we’ll die trying. We can’t do it.”


That basic reality has been largely overlooked during the national discussion of energy this week. In remarks Tuesday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said: “An energy-dominant America means self-reliant, it means a secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon.”

Back to the reality: The U.S. must import 40 percent of the crude oil it needs for transportation. A significant proportion of those imports comes from OPEC and its partner nations.

The theme of the week seems to be: Once the country only prioritized energy independence; now we’re creating such an abundance of energy resources at home that we can move on to “dominance,” which includes exporting coal, liquefied natural gas, and oil. But we’ve skipped the “independence” part before it’s been achieved.

Perry and President Trump have acknowledged the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The “America First Energy Plan,” which went up on the White House website soon after Trump’s inauguration, starts off:

Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy. The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.

It continues:

In addition to being good for our economy, boosting domestic energy production is in America’s national security interest. President Trump is committed to achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests. 

But we can’t drill our way out of this problem. The only way to break free of oil’s overwhelming influence on our economy, our security, and our daily lives, is to diversify the fuels we use. Liquid-fuel alternatives like ethanol are made from a variety of homegrown resources, like corn stover and even abundant natural gas. Diversification will save consumers money, reduce air pollution, and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Last week Trump championed ethanol during a campaign trip to Iowa: “We want to eliminate the intrusive rules that undermine your ability to earn a living, and we will protect the corn-based ethanol and biofuels that power our country,” he said. “And you remember, during the campaign, I made that promise.”

Let’s continue in that vein, moving toward an all-hands-on deck urgency to make America self-sustaining on all energy fronts.

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