The Holy Grail of Energy Independence

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Saturday, 27 October 2012 10:44

NPR's Planet Money did a nice piece deflating the nonsense on energy independence. Their crew took the long trip all the way to distant Canada, a country that is energy independent. And, thanks to the fact that they have courageous politicians who are willing to kick environmentalists in the teeth, the free people of Canada only have to pay $4.00 a gallon for gas.

As those of us who took intro economics have tried to explain to the reporters covering the campaign, being energy independent doesn't mean anything unless we are at war and somehow cut off from foreign oil supplies. (If this is our concern then drilling out our oil and gas now is incredibly stupid. That means that it will not be there if we ever face such a crisis.)

Oil prices are determined on world market just like the prices of wheat and corn. When a drought in Asia sends up the price of wheat, we will pay more for wheat in the United States even though we are a huge net exporter of wheat. And, as the Planet Money crew showed us, when the world price of oil skyrockets people in Canada pay more for gas even though they are energy independent, as would we even if we were energy independent.

This basic fact means that when a candidate says that he/she wants to make the U.S. energy independent, they are actually saying either that they don't have a clue about economics, or that they think the reporters covering the campaign are so incompetent that they won't call attention to the fact that they are spewing utter nonsense.