Scott Coenen: True energy independence

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by

Recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure highlight the role emerging technology can play in securing true American energy independence. People don’t often realize how fragile and interconnected world oil markets are or how vulnerable the United States’ position in those markets is. The US consumed about 20.5 million barrels of oil per day from world markets in 2018. Thanks to fracking and new oil drilling technology we now produce about 11.5 million barrels of oil every day into those markets. This still leaves a significant gap to meet our country’s oil demand, let alone demand from the rest of the world, and leaves us open to price volatility and geopolitical risk in the Middle East.

In order to tackle these problems and truly leave our country “energy independent” we need to find ways not only to increase our energy supplies but to decrease the demand side of the oil equation. This is where electric vehicles (EVs) and electrified transportation can have a huge impact. 70% of our oil demand is tied to transportation. If we can utilize EV technology to chip away at even a fraction of that 70%, we would leave our country far more independent and much stronger.

To be sure, even with increasing mileage, decreasing costs, and the lower cost of electricity versus gas for fuel, EVs still need to improve to reach a mass market. However, there are signs the technology is doing just that, improving dramatically to compete directly with gas vehicles. Ford, GM, Toyota and every major carmaker in the world are poised to release new electric models in the next year. These include not just passenger cars but SUVs and even trucks. Competition and innovation are driving us toward new energy technologies. Seizing this opportunity could leave our country in a far stronger position on the global stage.

–Coenen is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a voice for conservatives in the state’s energy policy debate.