Just when we were beginning to accept that the lesser evil in this batshit-crazy, un-presidential election was also the safer option, we get confirmation that Hillary Clinton is almost as delusional as Donald Trump. In last night’s debate, minutes after scornfully describing Trump as “living in an alternative [sic] universe,” Mrs. Clinton emailed a dispatch from her private planet, announcing for the first time anywhere that in the United States, “We are now, for the first time ever, energy independent.”
Now, among English speakers, the words “energy” and “independence,” used together, have a specific meaning. (I know, it’s quaint of me to suggest that words have meaning independently of who is using them, but you can have my dictionary when you pry it from my cold, dead hands…) A country is energy independent if, and only if, it produces all the energy it needs.
Mrs. Clinton was seriously mistaken to suggest that the United States is energy independent now, and further mistaken to say that if it were true it would be for the first time ever. The United States produced more energy than it consumed until World War II, and never again.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest (September) “Short-Term Energy Outlook,” the United States is still extracting about nine million barrels of its own oil per day and burning about 20 million barrels per day. I say “still” because the numbers and their relationship have not changed substantially for several years. The EIA forecasts that next year we will produce less oil and consume more.
With the U.S. government reporting that we still import about half of the oil we use, and that imports have been rising during the first half of this year, how are we to process the fact that a woman who is about a step and a half away from the presidency of the United States professes to believe that we are energy independent and says we no longer have to concern ourselves about the instability of the oil-rich countries of the Middle East? Some of us remember that the near paralysis of this country during the Arab Oil Embargo (Remember? The closed gas stations, the endless lines, the short hours? Anybody?) occurred when we were only importing 30% of our oil, and the Arabs shut off a mere 10% of that.
If there is any logical consistency on Planet Clinton — I know, another quaint concept, just shut up and hand me my broken lance — we can expect some awesome changes in foreign policy under the new President Clinton. You know, like closing U.S. military bases in 150 countries and bringing home 150,000 service members. Of course that’s not going to happen. Because of course Mrs. Clinton does not believe — cannot possibly believe — that the United States is energy independent.
The most charitable interpretation of what she said last night — actually the only charitable interpretation — is to assume that she is referring to the fact that for brief periods of time we produce a few more barrels of oil than we import, and defining that as energy independence. So if the Middle East gives us any instability, we only have to park half our cars and shut down half our economy.
Oh, and by the way. According to the EIA, next year we are going to be less independent than that.
So the most charitable interpretation of Mrs. Clinton’s assertion is also the most terrifying — that she is utterly ignorant of the energy realities, and future, of this planet. On Trump’s planet, meanwhile, they have a thousand years’ worth of coal left to burn and, lo and behold, it is “clean coal.”
There is no lesser evil. We are going to be completely fracked.