The war in Europe proves that the United States of America and the European Union, under multiple administrations and different parties, have for decades neglected what should be the primary policy goal of every major power on Earth: true and total energy independence. For all of Trump’s numerous faults and missteps, under the last administration, the United States was certainly doing much better on energy policy: Gas imports were down, (gas prices were down, and this was despite a pandemic that was throwing a wrench into the global supply chain). Where Trump – and, indeed, other Republicans throughout the years – have gotten it drastically wrong is in their failure to embrace alternative energy as part of the solution to this problem, rather than as some sort of liberal devil to be fought at all cost.

That being said, sustainable energy alone will not enable the United States to turn away from a dependence on imported energy. To be perfectly clear, that’s a bad thing whether it’s a reliance on an adversary or a supposed friend. Being reliant on foreign sources of energy means that the United States, even in its supposed pre-eminent position as the world’s sole superpower, is not truly in charge of its own destiny. It’s nice to think that being dependent on Saudi or Venezuelan oil rather than Russian is a better alternative, but it’s not. While that’s a great fantasy, it’s not reflective of the real world: Even if one grants the presumption that – especially at the current moment –  Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are morally superior to Russia, it’s certainly not by a large margin. Allowing Saudi sheiks or Venezuelan generals to have influence over our foreign policy by virtue of their oil exports is really no better than handing that influence over to Vladimir Putin and his gang of thugs.

A large part of the reason that Europe and the United States have failed to free themselves from this dependency on foreign oil is that nuclear power has, for years, been demonized by environmental activists the world over. It might be nice to think that we can achieve true, sovereign energy independence solely by relying on totally clean energy sources, but no major power on earth has done that yet. If no other major power has achieved it, there’s no reason to believe that the United States – the world’s largest economy – will be able to either. Instead, we need to accept that in order to achieve energy sovereignty, we’ll have to include a mix of oil (of which the U.S. has a natural abundance), nuclear power and clean energy. That’s the rational approach, and it’s the only one that will free us from the whims of foreign tyrants, regardless of whether they’re Saudi or Russian.

In a rational world, politicians all across the ideological spectrum could at least come to agreement on this one basic point: that we ought to do whatever we can to achieve true energy sovereignty as a country. It would not only be the best outcome for the United States, but for the entire globe, since it would allow us to make foreign policy decisions without regard to our sources of energy. We’d be able to support real democracies all over the world, without worry that some petty tyrant somewhere might be able to cut off our energy supplies. That would give us the real flexibility to act as a major power ought to: in the best interests of not only her own people, but the entire planet, preserving global stability as a whole.

Instead, thanks to the entrenchment of both parties in our current two-party system, we’re stuck in a series of failed paradigms when it comes to energy policy. Democrats are all for clean energy sources, but they have no real plan for making those energy sources economically viable without the massive intervention of the federal government. Republicans, meanwhile, are all in favor of increasing domestic oil production, but seem uninterested in finding a way to integrate clean energy sources into our economy as well.

There’s plenty of shortsightedness in both parties in this area. Rather than focusing on clean energy, the United States needs to focus on being energy independent for a wide variety of sources. It will be far from easy, but it’s long past time for the United States to adopt a sensible energy policy that puts national energy independence first and foremost, rather than always caving to the naysayers afraid of any change.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @jimfossel

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