Smith: America's choice: Push for energy independence

Smith: America's choice: Push for energy independence

March 17th, 2014 in Opinion Columns

Robin Smith

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The Russian "invasion" of Crimea has caused an international stir with world leaders calling for economic sanctions and a demand for the withdrawal of military forces.

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, has lived up to his narcissistic, KGB-rooted reputation by placing thousands of soldiers on the border of his nation's neighbor to the west, Ukraine, and occupying airports and other key locations on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, situated as a key hub in the Black Sea.

At the center of all of this lies the economic struggle over natural resources for energy and the staging of Russia's military in a strategic location.

The Black Sea is home to massive oil and natural gas exploration activities. Ukraine wants to become more self-reliant in its energy production, but Russia still supplies more than 50 percent of the region's oil and gas demands.

Wow. What a concept - reduce dependency on hostile nations!

It seems that Putin's taking advantage of Barack Obama on the foreign policy front and is destroying "successful democratic undertakings in the post-Soviet space," as noted in the New Republic's March 11 article on the Kremlin's tactics in the region.

A $750 million drilling project is in immediate danger just 50 miles off the Crimean coast, according to the March 10 Bloomberg Report. The plans to drill two wells that received permits from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, may be void with Russia's apparent success in wrestling Crimea from the Ukraine government.

How does this even remotely concern anyone in our area?

Have you noticed the cost of gas and petroleum products increasing lately? Are you experiencing increases in natural gas prices?

Funny how those pesky natural resources keep resurfacing in the international security picture.

The madness of America's costs lies in Washington in the hands of a political agenda that ignores reality.

The fatigue of war and fighting, combined with the centuries-long hatred between countries in the Middle East, entangles America in large part because of our energy partners. Now, Russia pushes itself to center stage through its disruption of a global energy market, with the impact felt here at home.

I was able to pump gas for $2.90 per gallon just weeks ago but now am paying $3.23 per gallon at the same station for regular unleaded.

Due to drilling advances and the use of hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. could be independent of foreign sources of oil and natural gas.

As of last month, Russia was ranked No. 1 in fossil fuel reserves, Iran No. 2, Venezuela No. 3, Saudi Arabia No. 4, the United States No. 5, Canada No. 6, and Iraq No. 7, with China closing out the top 10, according to Business Insider.

Yet, the approval of the Keystone Pipeline sits dormant. Filed in September 2008 during the last days of the Bush White House, the necessary infrastructure to join our neighbors in Canada to harness the natural resources of North America to cut the economic hold of rogue and unstable nations over our economy is being intentionally delayed by the Obama administration.

In making the deliberate decision to stall and impede exploration, the left panders to the extreme environmentalists by continuing higher fuel costs, in preventing job creation and, sadly, the enslavement of our nation by foreign interests.

Benjamin Franklin's quote applies to those "leading" America's energy policy: "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid."

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.