The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
NYT Discovers Energy Revolution

Is the New York Times finally catching on to America’s energy revolution? In a recent op-ed, NYT columnist Roger Cohen let his readers in on the good news that America is set to become an energy exporter by the end of the decade, reshaping geopolitics and boosting the American economy. With a roaring energy boom and better demographics than other developed countries, America may not be in decline after all:

[America's shift to exporter status] is just eight years away. . . . According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States imports around 8 million barrels of crude oil a day, so the predicted turnabout is dramatic. With those imports, notably those from the Middle East, go forms of political dependency and expediency that have long exacted a price on the United States.

Several developments lie behind this looming geostrategic shift. The first is the advent of shale oil and natural gas production made possible by new technologies. The second is the increase in oil production from deep water offshore operations. Between them, by somewhere between 2020 and 2030, these new sources are expected almost to double U.S. domestic oil production, currently running at between six and seven million barrels a day.

The energy revolution will also improve our standing relative to our chief rival:

In the Middle East, the equation switches when China becomes more dependent on a steady oil supply and more concerned on an economic basis about the region than the United States.

Right now, as Jaffe noted, China can operate in the knowledge that Middle Eastern instability costs the United States above all. If the Iran problem festers, for example, so be it. But facing a United States that is energy independent, as its own energy needs and costs rise, Beijing may well be prodded into a different strategic assessment.

Bullish on America op-eds in the NY Times? No, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse, but of the gradual realization that the energy revolution is real and that good things are headed our way.

Analyzing the consequences of America’s new energy abundance is going to become a major industry in the foreign policy world. We’re glad Via Meadia readers got there first.

Published on December 18, 2012 12:00 pm