Will alternative energy development increase US energy independence and security?
Robin Hayes, Member of the US House of Representatives (R-NC), in a Sep. 29, 2008 Independent Tribune article titled "Hayes: Energy Independence Would Improve National Security," stated:
“My position on energy is straightforward - we should be doing everything possible to address this growing problem and move our nation toward energy independence by developing reliable alternative energy sources for the future.”
The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, environment, and community leaders, stated in its Sep. 2008 report titled "The New Apollo Program: Clean Energy, Good Jobs" on the Apollo Alliance website:
"Renewable electricity is by definition 'made in America.' In contrast all the conventional fuels - including coal, oil, and natural gas - are global commodities subject to sharp price increases in line with rising global demand. In the global economy renewable power equals economic and energy security. Given the importance of renewable power to America’s clean energy future, it is time to level the playing field and provide a more predictable return on investment to the renewable power sector."
George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd President of the United States, stated at the Dec. 19, 2007 signing of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (HR 6):
"The legislation I am signing today [Energy Independece and Security Act of 2007, HR 6] will address our vulnerabilities and our dependence in two important ways. First, it will increase the supply of alternative fuel sources. I proposed an alternative fuel standard earlier this year. This standard would require fuel producers to include a certain amount of alternative fuels in their products. This standard would create new markets for foreign products used to produce these fuels. This standard would increase our energy security by making us less vulnerable to instability--to the instability of oil prices on the world market.
The bill I sign today takes a significant step because it will require fuel producers to use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuel in 2022. This is nearly a fivefold increase over current levels. It will help us diversify our energy supplies and reduce our dependence on oil."
Martha Young, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of Nova Amber, a business consulting firm based in Golden, CO, in an Oct. 31, 2008 article titled "Alternative Energy Economy - Part II" on the IT World website, stated:
"The key to energy independence is to be able to create, capture and store energy from a wide variety of sources. The economic opportunities arise when a variety of solutions are developed that support different environments. Once commercialized, the solutions can be sold around the globe for the same national and environmental security reasons. Alternative energy development is a win-win for everyone on the planet...
There is so much at stake driving the US to achieve energy independence. As the price of a barrel of oil declines, and prices at the gas pump also drop, we cannot be lulled into complacency and reduce the level of urgency in achieving independence. This time around, everyone in the country must play an active role in getting off the petroleum importing rollercoaster. Through a combination of personal conservation and alternative energy usage we can get this country back on track."
David Abraham, MA, Sovereign Risk Analyst for Barclays Capital (Lehman Brothers Investment Bank), stated in a Sep. 30, 2008 article titled "Will More Drilling Increase U.S. Energy Security?" on the Council on Foreign Relations website:
"Threats to our energy security abound, from natural disasters and domestic terrorist attacks, to inefficient infrastructure and reliance on fuel sources that add to environmental degradation. Moreover, the international marketplace determines supply and demand, so even if we reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East, a supply disruption in that region affects the quantity of U.S. imports. In fact, disruption in output anywhere - an attack on a pipeline in the Niger Delta to a hurricane in the Gulf - affects oil supplies everywhere...
We must change current assumptions by using regulations and tax policy to create incentives and provide government assistance for greener and more sustainable alternatives. Since we can't meet the country's growing need from domestic sources, we will become less secure by relying on foreign sources for substantial portions of our supplies, regardless of our drilling stance.
The Unites States needs to take the lead, or at least be one of the lead nations, in searching for energy alternatives. Our lifestyle of consumption is now creating a race for traditional resources; one we cannot win.
Robert Bryce, Managing Editor for the Energy Tribune, stated in a Jan. 13, 2008 Washington Post article titled "5 Myths About Breaking Our Foreign Oil Habit":
"...[T]he idea that the United States, the world's single largest energy consumer, can be independent of the $5 trillion-per-year energy business -- the world's single biggest industry -- is ludicrous on its face. The push for energy independence is based on a series of false premises.
[Myth] 2 A big push for alternative fuels will break our oil addiction.
The new energy bill [Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, HR 6] requires that the country produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2022. That sounds like a lot of fuel, but put it in perspective: The United States uses more than 320 billion gallons of oil per year, of which nearly 200 billion gallons are imported.
So biofuels alone cannot wean the United States off oil. Let's say the country converted all the soybeans grown by American farmers into biodiesel; that would provide only about 1.5 percent of total annual U.S. oil needs. And if the United States devoted its entire corn crop to producing ethanol, it would supply only about 6 percent of U.S. oil needs.
So what about cellulosic ethanol, the much-hyped biofuel that can be produced from grass, wood and other plant sources? Many in Congress believe that it will ride to the rescue. But the commercial viability of cellulosic ethanol is a bit like the tooth fairy: Many believe in it, but no one ever actually sees it. After all, even with heavy federal subsidies, it took 13 years before the corn-ethanol sector was able to produce 1 billion gallons of fuel per year. Two and a half decades elapsed before annual corn-ethanol production reached 5 billion gallons, as it did in 2006. But now Congress is demanding that the cellulosic-ethanol business magically produce many times that volume of fuel in just 15 years. It's not going to happen."
Robert J. Michaels, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, stated in a Dec. 20, 2007 National Review Online article titled "Hot Air and Wind: A National Renewable Power Requirement":
"The House of Representatives passed an energy-independence bill [Energy Independece and Security Act of 2007, HR 6] two weeks ago intended to make America more secure. Last week, the Senate rejected a provision in the bill establishing a 'renewable portfolio standard' requiring all investor-owned utilities (but not municipal systems and rural cooperatives) to obtain 2.75 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020.
A renewable portfolio standard is irrelevant to promises of energy independence and security. Over 95 percent of our power comes from domestic or nearby sources: coal (49 percent), gas (20 percent), uranium (20 percent), and water (7 percent). None of these resources is insecure or held hostage by foreign actors."
J. Robinson West, JD, Chairman and Founder of PFC Energy, in a July 10, 2008 US News & World Report article titled "Two Takes: Energy Independence Is Neither Practical nor Attainable," stated:
"'Energy independence' is a favored placebo - a rarely defined goal trotted out for energy crises but not achieved. A sensible definition: a condition in which foreign powers can neither interrupt our energy supplies nor affect prices...
Many politicians want to substitute other domestically produced liquid fuels for oil and assure the public that they are around the corner. They are not.
There is now no liquid fuel that can largely replace oil for transportation. We are stuck because of the scale of the industry and - despite criticism - oil's efficiency. A gallon of gas, refined from African oil, is cheaper than a gallon of Maine sparkling water. Political alternatives like corn-based ethanol have required huge subsidies and convulsed food markets but produced only 430,000 barrels per day in 2007 - 2 percent of U.S. oil consumption...
Politicians pose with gimmicks like hydrogen cars, but they will have little near-term impact. Breakthrough technologies, such as cellulosic ethanol, are theoretically attractive - but don't exist."
Bernard E. Munk, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), stated in a Mar. 28, 2006 article titled "Energy Independence Is Not Energy Security" on the Foreign Policy Research Institute website:
"Energy independence - at least oil independence - is essentially unachievable in almost any environment that we can conceive over the next few decades. There is almost nothing we could do short of giving up our transportation-based economy that would secure this 'goal.' To get there, we would have to abandon much of our passenger vehicular traffic use, airline availability, and the vast trucking network that makes this economy so flexible. The response of consumers to such an outcome is contradicted by the fact that despite much higher prices, consumption of transportation fuels has not fallen to a new, lower level that is likely to be sustained in the future."