Fletcher in the News

Energy Independence Not a "Meaningful" Concept, Argues Prof. Everett

The year is 2020. The United States is on the cusp of a golden age, there's peace in the Middle East, and the Texas oil tycoon is suddenly back in the saddle.

For many, this was the takeaway from the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook, released last month. In its annual report, the Paris-based IEA predicted that the US will lead the world in both oil and natural gas production by the end of the decade, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia, respectively. By 2035, the report says, the US should be "all but self-sufficient" in meeting its energy needs.

The news sent shockwaves across some corners of the media, prompting the Wall Street Journal to run an enthusiastic editorial titled "Saudi America." Using the IEA's projections as a springboard, the paper boldly declared that the world's next energy revolution will be powered not by solar, wind, or other renewables, but by fossil fuels. …

… Bruce McKenzie Everett, a professor of international business at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and former Government Relations Manager at Exxon Mobil, says the very concept of energy independence simply "isn't meaningful," because the US will always have broader economic and geopolitical interests in the oil market.

"Whether or not the US imports oil, we have a powerful geopolitical interest in the stability of the global oil market, because the whole global economy depends on it," Everett told The Verge. "So our geopolitical and national security posture doesn't change very much if we start importing less oil, or if we import from Canada rather than Saudi Arabia — it just doesn't matter.

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