2. Recapturing Lost Energy

Politically and emotionally, energy independence has become a hot issue not only for Americans, but for oil-dependent countries all over the world. In 1973, the Arab oil embargo caused long lines at American gas pumps. In winter 2009, eight European countries had to go weeks without natural gas—causing millions of people to freeze—because Russian politicians decided to cut off their supply. Only a few countries are oil or gas exporters; the rest (including the United States) are increasingly at the mercy of those few—unless they can find a way out.

American politicians’ responses to the call for energy independence have been reflexively quick and predictably consistent with their ideological proclivities. With the ...

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