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OPEC+ is teaching the U.S. a lesson it refuses to learn

Dependence on oil-rich countries puts the U.S. at an economic and diplomatic disadvantage. There's an obvious way to fix that.


The OPEC+ alliance announced Wednesday that it would scale down oil production significantly next month, meaning gas prices could start to spike in the near future unless the United States finds another oil market to meet the nation's supply demands.

And as U.S. officials scramble to do that, they’re teeing off on the alliance of top oil-exporting countries, which includes Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This joint statement from top security and economic officials in the White House says it all: 

The President is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. At a time when maintaining a global supply of energy is of paramount importance, this decision will have the most negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already reeling from elevated energy prices.

Some Democratic lawmakers have denounced the move, which is expected to reduce oil production by 2 million barrels per day, as an effort to undermine U.S. aid to Ukraine amid the ongoing war. Those lawmakers have called on the U.S. to reconsider its relationship — including its military partnership — with Russian-friendly regimes like Saudi Arabia.

The anger underlying all of this stems from the fact the U.S. appears to be stuck in this predicament for the time being. We are one of several countries hoping to stave off a potentially cold winter for many due to gas shortages, which, along with high gas prices, is why the Biden administration released millions of barrels from U.S. oil reserves earlier this year. 

But, to be frank, the U.S. has repeated old mistakes time and again with our continued reliance on oil — a dependence that’s left us at the mercy of antidemocratic regimes across the globe. This week’s OPEC+ decision and the downstream impacts it’s sure to have show how committed we’ve been to making the same error over, and over, and over again. 

For visual learners, imagine the policy equivalent of this:

For years, security officials and economists have sounded the alarm on the pitfalls of reliance on fossil fuels, taking diplomacy and domestic affairs into account. The conversation has come to the fore once more with Russia looking to assert its influence as a global leader in oil production. 

Democrats’ recent passage of an infrastructure bill with billions of dollars in funding for alternative energy sources is a good way to sever the U.S. from its ties to oil-rich overlords down the line

That means little for the immediate future, though. Today, many Americans are primed to face the consequences of a decadeslong refusal to heartily invest in alternative resources. 

It’s a cold world … literally.