Fiddlers, foreign oil and failed policy

An unfortunate clash, a temporary closure or even rising tensions ushering in unacceptable risks to international unarmed oil tankers could send global prices skyrocketing.

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No one with a brain needs to be convinced that America has a dangerous dependence on foreign oil. With an irresponsible Congress spending what we can't hope to make tomorrow, the United States stands at a crucial and historic moment. Rather than curbing economic and entitlement lusts, and promoting domestic, exportable resources, our country seems to be led by fiddlers watching from the rooftops while torches are being set all around.

If such fiddling seems hyperbolic, take the Obama administration's devastating decision to hamper America's efforts to get off foreign oil. The denial of the Keystone XL -- a major new energy secure pipeline linking the Gulf of Mexico to billions of barrels of oil in Alberta sands and Dakotan shale -- shows once again that America is being led into a visionless, bankrupt future.

The president excused such crippling action while touting grandiose plans to shuttle billions of dollars into misguided projects in wind and solar energy development when such resource could be used to widen our vast capacity of needed oil and gas in our own great nation. The current president seems set on chasing the wind and picking favorites. Think Solyndra. And also think about how you could export wind to China.

If the pipeline were not enough, there are also huge oil reserves off of our coasts as well. With just a small fraction of our offshore acreage being leased, American companies suffer burdening restrictions in the form of federal bans and declining lease offerings.

Incredulously, President Obama has pledged billions in offshore drilling elsewhere -- most notably, Brazil. If the president were truly opposed to offshore drilling, he would uniformly discourage the practice, rather than pick "winners and losers." Experiments of this type of national policy in recent decades, with Venezuela, saw our hand bitten by the satiated country as it seized private industry and now uses their American-aided resources to hurt us at any opportunity.

Given the current failed national leadership, America has little choice but to become even more reliant on insecure sources of foreign oil. Middle Eastern oil reliance continues to be a costly and terrible policy. The money we spend there often ends up in the hands of people who only seem to use it to plan our demise.

The United States devours 23 million barrels of oil daily, accounting for about 25 percent of total global consumption. But our domestic production -- through visionless polices and failed leadership -- isn't keeping pace. American production falls by an average of 135,000 barrels annually while demand steadily rises. And that demand must now compete globally with the equally insatiable appetite of China.

While President Obama wistfully gambles our national security on foreign oil, he could have tapped into North America's bounty of natural energy resources. According to a new study from the Institute for Energy Research (IER), the total amount of recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels. That's enough to cover America's energy needs for the next 250 years.

This would create opportunities to export needed energy globally, funneling international currency into national coffers, rather than siphoning them, while giving the innovative American people time and resources to lead the world on new energy solutions.

If that were not enough, America is even more abundant in natural gas. IER estimates 4.2 quadrillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas lies below our soil -- that enough to provide the United States with electricity for the next 575 years!

Rather than exploit this clean and abundant energy with favorable government policy, the president would rather use it as a class warfare wedge for political purposes.

President Obama's visionless stance against Keystone XL and domestic drilling is pure politics -- an attempt to appease fringe environmentalist constituents in an election year. Coupled with his newly announced policy of gutting our military while destabilizing our energy, one can clearly see it is time for a change.

Lt. Col. Steve Russell, US Army (Ret.), is the author of "We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein" (Simon & Schuster, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of Vets for Victory and serves as the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Oklahoma Senate.