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December 18th, 2008
10:23 AM ET

Obama should forget about energy independence

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/americas/12/15/eco.obamaenergyteam/art.browner.afp.jpg caption="Carol Browner was one of four key environmental nominees named by Obama."]

Arthur B. Laffer
The Wall Street Journal

This week in Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama introduced key members of his new energy and environmental team and gave a statement expressing his administration's ambitious goal to make America energy independent. While his desire to do so is sincere, such a strategy would be disastrous for our economy.

The platitude of "energy independence" makes zero economic sense. Yes, it's true that many nations that supply us with oil are run by anti-American governments. But unfortunately embargoes don't overturn despotic regimes. More often than not they harden them, as in Zimbabwe, North Korea and Cuba. Since the U.S. is so reliant on oil, embargoes will hurt the U.S. as much, if not more, than the countries of OPEC. The issue of how to handle the anti-American nature of oil-exporting nations is not for the Commerce Department, but for the White House, the State Department and perhaps the Department of Defense.

The U.S. currently imports some 60% of the oil we use. To imagine an energy-independent U.S. today is to envision gas at $20 or more per gallon and a true depression. President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried oil import tariffs in the 1950s, as has every president since. Yet never before has America's reliance on foreign oil been greater than it is now.

While energy independence for the U.S. would enormously increase the price of oil at home, it would have the exact opposite effect in the rest of the world. Cheap oil for countries like China would surely not benefit the U.S. or the world's environment. Businesses that use oil would move offshore, costing American jobs while still polluting the world's environment. Artificial energy independence is neither a good foreign policy nor a good domestic economic policy.

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. earle,florida

    Is this guy on drugs, this is the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard. I'not even gonna waste a rebuttle for this fool,...

    December 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  2. Ralph Illinois

    It sure would make sense to forget about our energy problems. Then the next time it happens we can suffer even more.

    Are we stupid? Wake up America.

    December 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  3. Maria

    I think US should cut oil imports and increase green energy; this will creates new jobs, and probably healthier environment and balance the energy price. Oil prices is not ultimately defined by OPEC, and last 2 months global economy crisis was great example, while OPEC members wish to keep oil prices up $70, oil prices continue nose diving till last week (84 days in a row). China can get cheap oil any time in exchange with African governmental projects. The bottom line, USA can play a role in defining oil prices by maintaining balanced oil and green energy use.

    December 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  4. Dave in Houston

    Why does CNN feel the need to give a soap-box to people who are so reviled and discredited as Arthur Laffer, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove?

    Arthur Laffer is a joke and his theory of economics has been at the root of our current disaster. He should be huddling under a desk in a fetal position and holding his tongue to prevent from humiliating himself further. CNN does its viewers/readers a disservice by allowing this guy to appear prominently on their site. If you insist on doing this, perhaps you ought to alert the readers of the past failures of the author.

    I'm sure we can expect a financial section by Bernie Madoff?

    December 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  5. jim

    This article makes the point that president elect Barack Hussein Obama's energy independence plan in 10 years won't work. There has been research done in th past 20 years on battery, hydrogen, and methanol to be used as alternatives. None of it has been effective. It won't be in the next 10 years. Maybe in 50 to 100 years. The only way to minimize our dependence on foreign oit is to make more fuel efficient vehicles. For example, the small could easily be made to get 40 – 50 miles per gallon. They would sell unlike the low demand for hybrid vehciles. This worked in the mid 1980's. Fuel efficiency increased in both small and large cars. In 1986 gas prices went down to 49 cents a gallon. If they would have done this in 2003 when gas prices started rising, we would be far less dependent on foreign oil and oill prices would lower than they are now.

    December 18, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    The main thrust of the environment response to climate change is to use other methods of energy instead of oil and coal. It will take a while but countries including the US are trying to develop inexpensive and environment friendly ways to power our transportation and heat and cool our houses as well as power our appliances. To cut the carbon emissions as much as they need to be cut oil and coal will be a very very small piece of our energy source. We'll be using sources like solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, and other forms of energy. So it is possible to achieve Obama's energy goals without wrecking our economy. In fact, the drive to do all of this plus fix up our infrastructure will produce the green jobs everyone is talking about that will put Americans back to work.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    December 18, 2008 at 10:54 am |
  7. Cindy

    Great article! I totally agree with everything that was written! The U.S. going "green" will not be as easy and bountiful as one thinks! We still will need oil for our every day living...even hybrids use oil! There is no way of getting around not buying oil from OPEC countries unless we drill off shore and produce our own oil. If we don't then us going green means nothing!

    And also not to mention the moneys that will be lost by our government paid in taxes by the oil companies. Where will the money come to offset that money lost? It will have to be something that pulls in huge revenues! And I don't see wind power, solar or anything else doing that. With out that money our nation will be up the creek with out a paddle.

    Whether you want to admit it or not the oil companies play a huge part in our economy. If we decide to go "green" and we don't compensate for them then we will go belly up!

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:42 am |