Report: 'Energy Independence' thwarted as U.S. oil and gas heads overseas

These days the phrase ‘energy independence’ has become code for drilling  our wild public lands. But what some may not realize is that oil and gas from our wildlands is not staying in the United States.

As it turns out, the oil, gas, and coal that is drilled and mined from right here in the U.S. is actually leaving American shores to fuel cars and furnaces in places like Europe, China, and India.

A new Wilderness Society report titled Exporting America’s Heritage details just how high the exports have risen.

Among the stats revealed:

  • The U.S. currently exports more than 690,000 barrels refined petroleum products per day like kerosene
  • Gasoline exports have more than doubled since 2007 and are on pace this year to exceed 150 million barrels, triple the amount in 2007—even as gas prices remain high.
  • In the first quarter of 2010, the United States exported more than 17.8 million short tons of coal. American coal exports increased by nearly 50% in the first quarter of 2011.
  • Two permits for natural gas export terminals have been approved, with several more proposed to send gas from the Marcellus Shale overseas.

Meanwhile American taxpayers are subsidizing the oil companies’ huge profits to the tune of billions per year. In essence we’re spending billions of dollars every year to allow multinational oil and gas corporations to plunder American lands. The profits from sales on the world market go to energy companies and Americans foot the bill.  

The report comes out just as the hugely controversial Keystone XL Pipeline continues to unfold this month.

The Keystone XL Pipeline would take oil dug up from Canadian forests and shipped across the American heartland – threatening communities from Montana to Louisiana. Much of the tar sands oil that would come from Canada through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline isn’t earmarked for domestic U.S. consumption.  The companies at the end of the pipeline are intending to ship much of it to South America, Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, American communities would be ones on the hook for dealing with the aftereffects of a pipeline spill or burst – like the one that threatened the Yellowstone River earlier this year.

So much for energy independence.

It is clear that the fossil fuel companies don’t need the money American taxpayers are giving them in the form of subsidies – especially if they are then just going to ship much of the oil, gas, and coal to Europe and Asia.  It is time to bury the ancient and unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies and instead encourage the development of clean energy that will stay right here at home—and ultimately lead to the energy independence we seek.

A good step in that direction is to prevent the destructive Keystone XL Pipeline from being built. Tell President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline!