There are two components of energy independence.
- Independence of the economic fluctuations caused by using non-renewable resources, regardless of the origin of the oil.
- Independence of the need for foreign oil to support the US economy, a need that arguably causes us to make choices to support governments that are not in line with our highest values, and to get into wars over resources - which redirects a tremendous amount of time and money from other creative, worthwhile endeavors in a society.
The US consumes 80M barrels of oil per day, 25% of the world total. 75% of what we use comes from other countries. Today, we are dependent on foreign oil - a non renewable resource. That oil is used mostly for cars and light duty trucks (2/3), and for commercial transportation. Some goes to electricity production, but it's minor. Electricity comes from coal, natural gas and nuclear power, with some renewables.
We could, however, be energy independent within a decade by redirecting our resources into aggressive renewable power efforts. Some people add the expansion of domestic and offshore drilling for new oil and natural gas reserves to the "independence" argument. That solution, however, only postpones the search for a solution and defers resources that could otherwise be used to develop long term solutions. It does not address the fact that we are already consuming more we can extract each year (in other words, we've surpassed the "peak oil" point and are coming down the other side), nor does it deal with climate change.
What to do?
1- reduce what we use
2- switch to other, renewable sources of energy
3- get engaged to make sure our industries, towns, states, and federal agencies are making the shift, too!
Renewable Energy Sources and Alternative Fuels
Here are some of the sources and technologies for renewable and clean energy that are being considered. Some of them are already in widespread use. The solution will likely come from a combination of all of these.
Energy from the Light of the Sun (Solar)
Energy from the wind
Energy from the heat of the Earth's crust, e.g., geysers (Geothermal)
Energy from the movement of the ocean (Wave and Tide capture)
Energy from gravity applied to water (Hydroelectric power) (6.5% today *)
Energy from water (Hydrogen Fuel cells)
Energy from nuclear reaction (18.7% today *)
Fuels from renewable energy sources, like plants (Ethanol, biodiesel)
Learn about Climate Change and Ecosystems