This post is in response to fellow Regional Coordinator Erick Ford, who posted on this subject recently. Reference here.

Let’s be clear: we are not dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Say What?!?! Ok, name the three countries that export the most oil to the U.S. (hint: they’re not in the Middle East). They are, in this order, Canada, Mexico and Nigeria. In fact, in the top 10 there are only two countries in the Middle East (Iraq and Saudia Arabia). Thus, we get the clear majority of our oil from outside the Middle East.

I do, however, agree with Erick that America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy puts our national (energy) security at risk. But do we honestly believe that spending hundreds of millions on exploration and infrastructure to harness more oil are positive, forward-looking investments?

Who even supports this?

Well, according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll: Republicans, the elderly, whites and the wealthy. Who is in the Senate? A bunch of old, rich white guys (83% white, 97% male, 50% over 65 and we all know they’re wealthy). In other words, young people, poor people and people of color do not support offshore drilling. Students in Florida have already made that clear.

So who was really pushing for expanded offshore drilling? Well, you may have guessed it, the Senate. In the climate and energy bill to emerge from the Senate bill possibly later this month (Earth Day), it’s clear the Senate would not push anything through without offshore drilling. But is it really worth it? Will, as Erick claims, offshore drilling “free us of foreign entanglements”?

I argue that it won’t. The most OPTIMISTIC estimate of foreign oil in the geographic area President Obama has opened up for offshore drilling is 63 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil. We consume, annually, 7 billion barrels of oil. 63 divided by 7 is… ok, so 9 years of oil. Will that make the US energy independent? The New York Times editorial board says it best: “a country that consumes one-quarter of the world’s oil, but owns about 2 percent of the world’s known reserves, cannot drill its way to self-sufficiency.”

So, if, again like Erick says, we’re really looking to be free of foreign entanglements, let’s lead the world in progressive, sustainable and forward-looking energy policies that will protect future generations and really make America energy independent. South Korea, a country with a fraction the GDP and public expenditure of the US, is investing 2 % of its GDP in green tech and R&D. The US is nowhere even close.

As China, India, Brazil, South Korea and all of Europe pass America by in the clean technology race, we’ll cling to our shores until someone finally convinces the public that there’s not enough oil there to quench our immense thirst. So let’s get back on track and be the American of old.  Let’s find that country that proclaimed we get to the moon – and did. I want an energy policy that will take us to the moon!

Obama, get us back on the right track and craft an energy policy that will do that, not keep us back in the 20th century.

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