The one prominent issue that both American political parties can seemingly agree on is that the U.S. should be less dependent on foreign oil. And Santa Claus has apparently listened and granted their wish. The United States is in the midst of a mini-oil boom, which has reversed, at least temporarily, the country’s increasing dependence on foreign sources of oil. Oil extracted from shale deposits in North Dakota, Montana, and Texas has reversed years of decreasing American oil production, leading to increased domestic extraction and thus reducing dependence on overseas oil from 60 percent of U.S. consumption in 2005 to a little less than half now. Add to this the exports from Canada of oil from tar sands for refining in U.S. refineries (some of which will come through the future Keystone pipeline), and the United States will be, for the first time since 1949, a net exporter of petroleum products, such as jet fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil.
Shouldn’t the two parties pat themselves on the back? After all, under their stewardship, aren’t we reducing dependence on the terrorist nations and dictatorships of the Persian Gulf? Not really. Dependence on foreign oil is not the problem that conventional wisdom makes it out to be. As a corollary, all the wars we have fought over oil — for example, two with Iraq and the threat of such with Iran — have been largely unnecessary and immensely expensive.