“Energy self-sufficiency” is not the same thing as the politically popular and wholly unrealistic notion of “energy independence”. But it might be doable by 2026 for the United States.

So says the President and CEO of the the ‘Big Oil’ lobby, the American Petroleum Institute (API).  During his annual energy policy speech December 4, API President and CEO Jack Gerard sought to steer the notion of U.S. “energy independence” toward becoming “energy self-sufficient”. If oil prices and political tensions continue to rise, THIS could catch on quickly, especially during a presidential campaign.

“We operate in global economies. The likelihood that the United States will become energy independent from all forms of all types of energies is not realistic in the short term,” Gerard said.

“Having said that  . . . we have vast resources. Due to modern technology advances (we have) resources that can be developed right here in the United States. Of those resources, oil and natural gas — which by and large provide the liquid fuels that we consume in the country — (sic) if we were allowed to develop our resources in the United States that are currently off limits, coupled with the imports from Canada, our largest energy trading partner, coupled with the expanded development of realistically renewable forms of energy,we could become energy self-sufficient for liquid fuels in 15 years,” he asserted.

“That’s a reasonable expectation,” he continued in response to a question. “With right governmental policies we could achieve and become far less reliant of forms of energy that are in unstable parts of the world. You only have to look at the front pages of newspapers today and see what’s going on in the Straits of Hormuz and elsewhere.”

This poster is now out-of-date -- if you believe the new 100% by 2026 projection by the American Petroleum Institute. CREDIT: API.org

Staking this claim for self-sufficiency is noteworthy given that as recently as June 2011, API stopped short of just such a marker. During remarks to journalists, Gerard presented a blueprint illustrating how the United States could meet 92 percent of its liquid fuel demand from secure sources by 2030, assuming appropriate policy changes (see accompanying poster). Watch Gerard’s speech here.

So now the ‘goal line’ seems reachable. Given technological advances and new discoveries, especially with shale oil and natural gas, might self-sufficiency be reachable within a decade, or even sooner?

Perhaps. But API and its allies will be stressing: only if U.S. crude production increases dramatically, including from offshore leases and — you may have guessed — the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

In a bid to accomplish that, API has launched Vote4Energy.org, an ad campaign that Gerard billed as more of a conversation with voters and elected officials. The top-tier messages focus on new jobs, more government revenue and energy security.

DeSmogBlog called it “thinly-veiled election-year bullying.”  It will be interesting to watch whether those who voice an opinion value more jobs, more government revenue and improved energy security / self-sufficiency during this recession over reducing carbon emissions and mitigating other environmental impacts from the exploration, production and consumption of fossil fuels.

Greenpeace mocked API’s campaign with this spoof of the testimonials in API’s ads. It closes with: “Don’t let Big Oil script our energy future.”

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