The Captain & Tennille and oil exports

captainandTI had an op/ed in Monday’s Houston Chronicle that drew an analogy between the Captain & Tennille’s recent divorce and our energy policy, which remains stuck in the 1970s:

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.

Read more here. 

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About lorensteffy

Loren Steffy is a writer, speaker and consultant. He is the author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit published by McGraw-Hill in 2010 and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, published by Texas A&M University Press in April 2012. A journalist for more than 25 years, he was most recently the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle.
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2 Responses to The Captain & Tennille and oil exports

  1. dw says:

    i think you are correct about the way we viewed oil as being scarce or subject to being cut off. and oil is a global market (which seems to be ignored at times, by those who were so into the drill,baby,drill for example). now that they (or some one has) achieved a much more stable source, they now seem to be big on exporting. that seems to be counter to what they were in favor of before. how do the rest of us sort of the contradictions?

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    • lorensteffy says:

      Well, the oil industry of course wants to sell as much oil as it can at the highest price, which is why it favors exports. For the rest of us, we have to look past that profit motive. The new-found abundance gives us far more leverage in the global oil market than we have had in decades. We would not have gotten Iran to end its nuclear program, for example, if we were still as beholden to OPEC as we were a decade ago. For the average consumer, exports will help reduce oil price volatility and keep prices lower over the long term than they might otherwise have been. So this is one case where the profit motives of the oil industry coincide with the economic benefits of the country. The question, of course, is how to we use this new global leverage to prevent returning to the scarcity and dependency of the past.

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