The nation has now effectively achieved the long-sought goal of energy independence—not because of any federal program or policies, but because of the efforts of thousands of entrepreneurs deploying new technologies in America’s shale fields.
While overall dependence on oil imports has decreased, from a peak of 60 percent of consumption in 2005 to 40 percent today, that fact doesn’t fully convey the new reality. If imports from Canada and Mexico—our North American partners—are taken out of the calculus of “dependence,” then U.S. reliance on overseas sources of oil is now below 20 percent of demand.
At this low level of overseas imports, one can no longer say the U.S. is being “held hostage” to foreign oil. And one can no longer justify leaving intact decades-old legislation that still prohibits U.S. oil firms from selling their product to willing buyers around the world, an economic freedom enjoyed by virtually every other U.S. industry.