Energy Security: U.S. Must Make Hard Choices

The current U.S. energy mix is geopolitically, environmentally and economically unsustainable, requiring the nation to make tough choices regarding its future use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable power, says a report from the American Security Project, a bipartisan policy and research organization chaired by former Sen. Gary Hart.

American’s Energy Choices” is a more subtle reading than what often passes for energy-security analysis in the mainstream political discussion, and unlike similar reports from liberal and conservative think tanks, it doesn’t outline a precise course on the thorny energy-security question. Instead, it attempts to analyze the full spectrum of security impacts that flow from use and reliance on different types of energy.

energy security, American Security Project

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Importantly, it acknowledges that “energy security does not depend on the percentage of supply that is imported,” pointing out that “in a world of globally traded commodities, it is no longer possible to be truly energy independent: even domestically produced energy sources are subject to fluctuations in global commodity markets.” So while acknowledging that reliance on foreign oil has negative consequences – driving down the value of the dollar and hurting American competitiveness – the report doesn’t fixate on increasing domestic fossil fuel production. Energy security, it says, “comes from flexibility, competition, and redundancy.”

Which is where renewables come into play. “There needs to be a coherent strategy to use more renewable power in transportation,” the report says. “Only by giving consumers a choice about how to fuel their cars will policymakers be able to break the grip that oil has on transportation. “

The report also recognizes an environmental sustainability component to energy security. There might be political divisions regarding man-made climate change, but “even if policymakers are skeptical of the scientific basis for the theory of climate change, a prudent, precautionary course in the face of uncertainty would demand that some action be taken,” the report says.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

1 Comment

  • Reply August 10, 2011

    Bruce McFarling

    Wow! Giving consumer a choice on how to fuel their cars! How about giving consumers on whether they have to have a car to get around? Shouldn’t an ability to text while traveling without endangering everyone around you be an option on the menu?

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