Should the United States be oil independent?

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In the latter half of February 2022, Ukraine announced its full intentions of joining NATO (North American Trade Organization). Being a former Soviet satellite state, Russia was not too pleased with Ukraine’s announcement and began to make preparations to invade. 

On Feb. 21, Russia recognized two breakaway regions of Ukraine, and three days later, launched a full-scale invasion into the country.

Expectantly, world markets have seen an incredibly negative reaction to the invasion, more specifically, the oil market. 

With Russia at the forefront of oil importation, especially in the United States, gas prices have soared to record highs in the days following the Ukraine invasion. The introduction of new sanctions, along with diplomatic condemnation has led to a shortage of gas supply and increase in overall demand.

With gas prices reaching record highs in recent days, is it time for the United States to reduce their dependence on foreign oil and become more energy independent?

“Yes, because we do have resources to produce our own oil and technology to find alternatives,” said Carlette Dias, a current member of the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees) who frequently works within its respective oil sector.

“Being dependent on another country creates tension for our own supply,” Dias elaborated. “Although importing goods is good for stability and economics, it’s not good to have a full dependence on essential goods.”

Dias further elucidated that if the U.S. becomes independent in oil production, the likelihood of foreign dependency on entities like Russia is quite small. She also requested that her opinion does not accurately reflect that of the Dept. of Defense (DOD). If the U.S. becomes independent in oil production, the economy will have less tariffs and other costs associated with importing foreign oil. 

Under the Trump administration, the production of oil through the Keystone XL pipeline cemented U.S. oil sovereignty prior to the Biden administration. With the pipeline, the United States remained the highest producer of oil in 2020, topping both Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

Due to this, U.S. gas prices orbited around $1-$2, primarily due to the reduction of tariffs, currency conversion, freight costs, etc. In fact, as of 2019, the U.S. has become the primary net energy exporter since 1952. By having the national oil system, America was able to greatly expand its industrial exports and its ability to solely rely on itself for energy production.

Under the Biden administration, however, this oil sovereignty was short-lived, if not dead on arrival. In fact, cancellation of the pipeline was one of the first executive orders done by President Joe Biden. 

According to The White House, the cancellation of the United States Keystone XL Pipeline “disserves U.S. national interest.” Following the cancellation, gas prices across the nation have seen a $2-$3 increase in price/per gallons. As a result, due to lack of domestic supply, the United States moved back to importing oil from its competitors, Saudi Arabia and Russia, driving up gas prices at the same time. 

On average, the United States now imports over 200,000 barrels of crude oil and 500,000 barrels of petroleum per day from Russia—an almost 11-year high. Given this dependence on Russia, the United States has seen an almost full reliance on Russian oil, causing the U.S. oil sovereignty to be nothing more than a figment of imagination.

Along with economic sanctions placed on Russia by the United States, the likelihood of severed diplomatic ties translating into economic depravity is quite likely. If the United States continues to levy sanctions on Russia, Russia can essentially trade embargo the United States and reduce the amount of oil given to the United States. 

Under the basic laws of economics, by reducing supply and maintaining demand, the rise of gas prices levied on consumers is due to recovering the losses from the short supply. By having the United States rely on foreign oil, situations such as war can sever economic supply and increase consumer prices.

In most cases, the United States benefited greatly, economically speaking, from having a national oil system, since it greatly increased the amount available for domestic use. By having a national system, the United States did not need to rely on foreign nations for oil and instead, could be entirely independent.

By having oil independence, the United States can regain its ability to rely on itself and use its resources for economic benefit. With war raging across the world, it’s absolutely imperative that America stay on track with independence, instead of relying on foreign nations.

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