Love apparently didn’t keep the ’70s pop duo Captain & Tennille together. Last month, Toni Tennille filed for divorce from Daryl Dragon after 39 years of marriage. Just as the pair’s most famous standard now rings false, so does our 1970s notion of energy security.
For the past 40 years, U.S. energy policy has been married to the idea of scarcity. Following the oil embargoes of the 1970s, we built policies, from export bans to ethanol mandates, based on the idea that we would forever be at the mercy of other oil-producing nations.
The hydraulic fracturing boom, however, has changed all that. North America is undergoing an energy renaissance.
Domestic crude oil production has reached parity with imports, and the International Energy Agency predicts the U.S. may become the world’s largest energy producer as early as next year. Yet our policies remain stuck in the dark ages of scarcity. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are reluctant to consider lifting the 1970s-era ban on crude exports, citing issues of “energy security.”
There’s a difference between ensuring our energy security and hoarding resources. With our newfound abundance, security comes through continued development of domestic reserves.
Forty years of scarcity and fears of being held hostage by unfriendly oil-producing regimes has blinded lawmakers to the obvious: Exporting oil is no different than exporting any other commodity.
During the four decades that the U.S. has banned oil exports, it has worked to expand free trade around the world, and the economic benefits of those efforts has been clear. Free trade has boosted competition on a global scale, encouraged innovation and increased our standard of living at home by driving down prices for a broad range of goods.