Newt Gingrich wants you to know that people who have oil are scary unless they're Americans.
In a speech given at CPAC today the former Speaker of the House claimed that nothing less than our national security is at risk if we have to depend on nations that support “radical Islamic terrorism.” And perhaps he’s right, but like every other conservative who brings up the issue of foreign oil independence, the numbers really don’t support this claim.
The U.S. actually manages to produce 49% of our own petroleum according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Of the oil that we import, 51% percent comes from the Western Hemisphere, with Canada and Mexico our top two suppliers. The entire Persian Gulf region only represents 17% our total imports. Which means that the Islamic nations to which Gingrich refers (“radical” or not) only control about 8.7% of our total oil use. However, they do have spare production capacity and our friends in Europe and Asia are as dependent or worse.
That isn’t to say that the policy that Gingrich suggested is a bad one.
Gingrich advocated for the EPA to go back to issuing permits for deepwater drilling on the Gulf Coast, to open up certain areas of Alaska that had been previously deemed suitable for oil exploration but were shut down for the EPA, and for greater efforts in exploration of natural gas and oil in shale rocks (which by some estimates contain enough fuel for the next 100 years). The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers when it comes to alternative energy, as it amounts to nothing more than wasting money.
These ideas would help increase energy production and allow for true innovation across the entire energy industry, not just in a narrow commodity such as oil or solar. But the reasoning that lead to these ideas is simply wrong. America is not at the mercy of terrorists when it comes to oil, and when we propose policy we should remember that.
Not to mention a fair amount of the petro-dollars are recycled back into American banks and lended back to Americans.