In a new Conversation piece, “Is ‘energy dominance’ the right goal for U.S. policy?,” Daniel Raimi explores a catchphrase that has recently made its way from DC to a number of states across the nation: “American energy dominance.”

Raimi describes the origins of the phrase and how it fits the reality of today’s global energy markets.

“‘Dominance’ suggests the United States could bend geopolitical adversaries to its will by wielding energy as some type of bargaining chip or weapon,” he writes. “But the buying and selling of oil, gas and other forms of U.S.-produced energy are directed by market forces, not government policy.”

Raimi reminds readers that “U.S. policymakers routinely object when other nations (such as Iran, Russia or Saudi Arabia) make decisions about buying or selling energy with geopolitical goals in mind” and that “manipulating energy exports to punish or reward other nations would almost certainly lead to retaliation, erecting new trade barriers that would ultimately harm the domestic and global economy.”

“Like its forerunner, energy “independence,” the notion of American energy “dominance” is unrealistic, given the outsize role global markets play compared to U.S. policy,” writes Raimi, “and it unwisely distracts from the goals that should be shaping U.S. energy policy.”

Raimi’s proposed alternative: “[W]idespread access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy sources.”

This article was also syndicated by Slate.


Daniel Raimi (@DanielRaimi) is a lecturer at the Ford School and a senior research associate at Resources for the Future. His research focuses on energy policy issues including oil and gas markets and policy, regulation of oil and gas production, the climate implications of shale gas development, and federal climate policy design.