Talk of American energy independence isn’t new. Even if we use as a marker President Richard Nixon’s November 1973 “Project Independence” pronouncement, in which he described his plan to wean the US off foreign oil (particularly from Middle Eastern suppliers), it’s safe to say that dream was predated by at least a generation or two of wildcatting Texas oilmen.
But with the rise of domestic shale production, the discussion has intensified. And while experts and analysts doubt that complete energy independence is possible, there’s a greater likelihood than ever that we’ll reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil – because of good ol’ Midwestern shale.
Turning Down the Tap
Last year, for the first time since 1995, the US produced more oil than it imported. Between the production bonus derived from shale and the decline in American fuel consumption, the US has become less directly dependent upon imported foreign oil – and less reliant on Middle Eastern oil than China now is, since overtaking the US as the world’s biggest oil importer in 2013. At the same time, the US has mostly cut back on its West African imports from Nigeria and Angola.