The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy released its annual Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk this week, and the report shows that the country’s remarkable reversal of fortunes on the energy security front continues.
The report finds U.S. energy security is the strongest it’s been since 1996, as our security risk level dropped three points to 78 in 2015, marking the fourth year in a row that the U.S.’s overall energy security risk has declined.
Not surprisingly, the report credits the shale revolution for this remarkable trend. From the report’s press release:
“It is not a coincidence that American energy security has shown vast improvements at the same time that America’s innovative energy industry was able to ramp up oil and gas production, ” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, which produces the annual report. “Our recent Energy Accountability Series quantified just how dramatic the impact of the energy renaissance has been. Without it, America would have 4.3 million fewer jobs and consumers would be paying 31 percent more for electricity and 43% (more) for gasoline. While we’re not in a period of sustained improvements, the story would be much different without these advancements.” (emphasis added)
The index analyzed 37 different security metrics for geopolitical, economic, reliability and environmental risks. The following graphic shows all of the metrics the index looked at:
And this chart shows how 2015 compared to the 30-year average and previous years:
The oil and natural gas sector saw the biggest improvements overall. Natural gas production reached record highs in 2015 thanks to a five percent increase, while crude oil output increased by more than seven percent. The report also highlighted an 11 percent drop in risks from energy-related CO2 emissions. From the report,
“The decrease in risk was generally broad based. Of the 37 Index metrics, 19 showed a decrease in risk of 1% or more, 5 showed an increase in risk of 1% or more, and 13 showed essentially no change in risk in 2015. Most of the 19 metrics showing improvement were in the Fuel Import, Energy Expenditure, Energy Use Intensity, and Environmental metric categories. The most significant metrics showing higher risk were in the Market and Price Volatility metric grouping.” (page 12)
The following chart shows areas that experienced a change of 10 percent or more:
All this good news considered — as well as shale development’s undeniable contribution to increased energy security — the report cautions the biggest threat to this progress is the “Keep it in the Ground” KIITG movement, a fact Energy In Depth has discussed frequently. From the Institute’s press release:
“The greatest threats to America’s energy security are largely components that we control,” Harbert said. “A continued regulatory assault on American energy production could lead to less diversity and reliability. And perhaps the biggest threat of all is the ‘keep it in the ground’ movement, which if actually implemented, would erase the gains made in recent years and bring us back to an era of dependence on foreign sources of oil.”
Of course, the groups of fringe activists that make up the KIITG movement are currently focused on stopping the development of infrastructure like pipelines across the country and, in some cases, the leasing of federal minerals like those found beneath the Wayne National Forest. In doing so, these groups disregard the needs of consumers to push fringe agendas, as is evidenced by Sierra Club Dirty Fuels campaign director Lena Moffitt’s recent comment in Bloomberg:
“We’re in this critical window where renewables are going to be cost competitive in a few years,” said Moffitt, who is based in Oakland, California. “If we can forestall gas infrastructure being put in the ground and locking in that demand for the next 60 years — if we can forestall that by maybe just five years — the hope is that renewables will come in and be cost competitive in all markets.”
And while this movement is comprised of groups that don’t even come close to representing a majority opinion, they were recently blamed for the Democratic loss in this year’s presidential election. When asked recently by CNBC “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernan if the “somewhat radical” energy and climate policy advocated by the KIITG movement has served her party well, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) responded,
“I think when you look at it, it’s so critically important that we live in the real world and not in the world of ideology. I can tell you that… there’s a large number of people that are ‘Leave It In The Ground’ that think we should shut down all fossil fuels. I think people in the fossil fuel industry feel that, whether they’re coal miners, or they’re oil workers, and I think that kind of alignment with ‘Leave It In The Ground’ and not looking at energy policy, has had an effect (on the way voters cast their ballots this year).”
The Institute for 21st Century Energy forecasts that the current trend of decreasing risks to our nation’s energy security will continue as U.S. oil and natural gas production increases. However, an important aspect of the industry’s ability to develop these resources is having needed infrastructure in place to transport it to markets once wells are completed. The KIITG movement seeks to stop this infrastructure build out, and in turn, stop oil and gas development across the country. Such an occurrence would not only be devastating to our economy, as the Institute’s September report showed, but as this index demonstrates, could also compromise American energy security.