Carl Lisek, executive director of South Shore Clean Cities, discusses energy independence and security in the United states.
Independence means different things at different stages of our lives.
It starts with those first steps without help from mom and dad and advances to taking the training wheels off the bike, getting the keys to the car, heading off to college and eventually to a place of your own and financial independence.
When Americans celebrate Independence Day each July, the holiday takes on new and different meanings to different people over time as well. For many, it is a day of waving old glory at a hometown parade, eating hot dogs at a cookout, kids playing in the pool or running through the sprinkler and gathering with friends and neighbors for a fireworks display.
But the true meaning of the day goes far beyond summer fun. Of course the day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, but over the years, the nation’s threats and allies have changed and as such, the holiday has taken on different perspectives of the meaning of independence and freedom.
There’s never a bad time to thank and honor our nation’s military veterans, active duty armed service members and their families and a date rooted in celebrating our freedoms seems like as good as any. We thank them for all they do and have done to maintain our nation’s security.
One key aspect of the nation’s security is energy security and energy independence. What does energy independence really mean? In short, it means domestically producing more fuel than the amount consumed.
Reducing the nation’s dependence on imported oil is one way to contribute to energy security. It’s also a key goal of the Clean Cities mission. The U.S. Energy Information Administration in late 2018 reported the U.S. now produces more oil than it imports.
The report indicated the U.S. sold 211,000 barrels of crude, gasoline and diesel daily overseas compared to net imports of 3 million barrels a day on average in 2018 and a record high of more than 12 million barrels a day in 2005.
This is all exciting news for energy security and American jobs. The U.S. Department of Energy reports on-road vehicles account for nearly 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption and more than a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the major contributor to climate change. `
So, what would happen if we shifted that trend toward American production of more clean-burning fuels and the adoption of vehicles and equipment that use them?
It seems the U.S. is doing that as well. The same report also indicated the U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas. That’s great news, particularly given its clean burning properties for electricity generation and vehicle and equipment fuel.
We as Americans need to do our part to increase demand on clean-burning domestic transportation fuels and energy sources. How do we do that? Support and use public transit. Walk and bike whenever possible. Combine errands and trips to avoid cold starts in gasoline-powered vehicles. Reduce idling by going inside fast-food restaurants instead of using the drive-through window.
Many are taking it a step further by investing in flex fuel, hybrid, plug-in electric or alternative fuel vehicles and equipment, all of which reduce harmful air pollutants, increase support for domestic fuel sources and reduce dependence on imported oil. We’re thankful for the role we’re able to play in helping the public, private and nonprofit sectors do just that.
All Americans benefit when we support domestic fuels and our nation’s energy independence. Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.
This column originally appeared in The Times of Northwest Indiana. Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.
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