November 10, 2016
With Election Day on the 8th and Veterans Day on the 11th, this may be an ideal time to reflect on longer-term decisions that will dramatically impact the demands on America’s next generation of warfighters. Energy security should be at the top of that list.
Yet, over the course of this election season, the topic of energy security received scant attention, in part because gasoline prices haven’t yet returned to painful levels. However, as we look over the horizon at 2017 and beyond, it’s clear that energy will continue to shape conflicts abroad and provide hostile regimes with alarming leverage over the U.S. economy.
The U.S. imported 9.4 million barrels per day of petroleum last year, of which about 31 percent came from Saudi Arabia, Iran and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More importantly, official projections show that oil imports in 2016 and 2017 are on the rise, despite widespread fracking, with the biggest surge in imports coming from Nigeria, Iraq, and other members of OPEC. This August alone, America consumers paid over $10 billion for foreign oil, including nearly $4.4 billion sent to OPEC members that hold little regard for American interests overseas.
This progress is further strengthened by market forces, driven by growing consumer demand for fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol, known as E15, in lieu of the 10 percent blend that is standard across the country. In markets where the option is available, drivers are enjoying lower-cost, lower-emissions transportation fueled by the same high-octane blend employed by NASCAR drivers.
As a result, biofuels are now blended into 97 percent of all motor fuel. It’s a remarkable achievement, and if that growth continues it will represent a tremendous victory for U.S. security. But if advocates of the status quo have their way, and we roll back progress on the RFS, it will almost certainly mean a more daunting task ahead for those charged with protecting our nation’s interests at home and abroad.