Energy Independence of the USA

Energy Independence of the USA

The United States has relied on foreign imports of oil and natural gas for more than sixty years, but will soon reach a major energy milestone with the nation predicted to become a net energy exporter by 2026. This is a big change, with energy independence expected to make the nation safer. President Donald Trump has a goal for the USA of “energy dominance”. Energy Secretary Rick Perry explained energy dominance on 27 June, 2017 as "An energy dominant America means self-reliant. It means a secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon… An energy dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and our influence." Most US governments over time have agreed with the first half of this statement. The second part regarding global leadership and influence is unique to Trump. Some critics point out that world markets expect to work in partnership rather than be dominated by the USA. As the United States begins to free itself from foreign sources of energy, international energy demand is growing. By 2040, worldwide energy consumption is expected to surge 56 percent, according to the US Energy Information Administration. As a net exporter, American manufacturers will be able to sell oil and gas in international markets, boosting the domestic economy and weakening the power of volatile nations.


When talking about energy independence in the oil sector, this usually means independence from the Saudi-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel and any control it might exert on the global oil market to deliberately disrupt the US. economy. In 2015, Obama The lifting of a 40-year ban on exporting US crude oil by President Obama in 2015 created a surge in shipments, until a protracted oil price downturn led to mass lay-offs. Now, American oil exports are emerging as a disruptive new force in global markets. The USA has exported one million barrels of oil a day during some months so far this year and is on track to average that amount for all of 2017, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the US Energy Department and the International Trade Commission. The US exports mostly refined petroleum, not crude oil. With total imports of petroleum having dropped significantly over the past few years, the doubling of exports in 2017 would be close to a net balance in the oil trade. Other countries are also expanding their energy production to capitalize on the expected growth in demand. Iraq’s oil exportation hit record levels in February 2017. Iran recently announced a plan to increase its oil supplies by 8 billion barrels over the next 30 years. Russia has recently opened a new natural gas pipeline and two new oil pipelines to meet lucrative international energy deals already agreed with Japan and Qatar, worth several billions of dollars.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

Natural gas exports more than tripled from 2002 to 2011. To guarantee this stable future, the government must first implement policies that support energy production and transport. An important first step will be to push through approval for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, which facilitate the transportation of natural gas to other countries. This is a challenge as these facilities are subject to strict, lengthy reviews. Currently, more than two-dozen applications are currently awaiting approval, with some having waited years. The application and approval process will need updating and restructuring before US LNG exports can make an immediate impact on world trade. Obama faced criticism for delaying LNG export licenses, but exporting LNG from the United States only recently became viable, so developing the licensing process took time. US allies, including the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have already urged the United States to make the LNG terminal approval process quicker so their energy supplies can be stabilised. As well as LNG export terminals, the US energy export market will be helped with more drilling allowed on federal territory. Previously, regulations make production on federal lands impossible. A drilling permit on federal territory used to take an average of 220 days in comparison to permits for drilling on private lands that take just 10 business days in some states. The system for streamlining licenses, introduced by the Obama administration, is now rated as working very well, with the Department of Energy sometimes able to approve licenses within a few days of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission completing its review. Making federal lands available for production could add USD127 billion to the economy annually over the next seven years.

Technological innovations

To date, technology innovations have allowed US drillers to profitably extract oil and gas from shale rock formations, leading to a boom in fossil fuel production and exports. It has also become possible to liquefy US natural gas and ship it worldwide. For the US energy sector to thrive, the government needs to continue to invest in new technologies. Trump's proposed budget cuts to the Department of Energy's budget for research and development may impact on the success of future global energy deals.

Climate change

The Obama administration tried to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector. The administration also refused to issue new leases for coal mining on federal land and scaled back plans for offshore drilling auctions following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In contrast, Trump has announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement and has backed away from US pledges to double spending on research and development around clean energy, focusing instead on exporting US power to encourage use of natural gas and development of clean coal and nuclear technology.


Politicians on both sides of the house have long-hailed "energy independence" as a key aim of a strong energy policy. Others argue that the country should pursue policies that ensure energy security by being interconnected rather than independent.