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Editorial: Energy Threat Should Spur U.S. to Action

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Iran’s threat to shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf in the face of possible United States sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program illustrates how vital it is for us to become less dependent on the vagaries of rogue states.

And while the current administration is gung ho for alternative energy sources — which we must develop — it drags its feet on developing, or actively tries to discourage, tapping short-term fossil fuel resources that would make us more secure.

One sixth of the world’s oil supply comes through the Gulf, which is ringed by oil-rich states. Iran itself is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, and U.S. sanctions would hit its economy hard. Almost 80 percent of its revenue is dependent on oil.

And it’s not just that part of the world that’s a concern —Venezuela and Libya with their respective lunatic leaders (until Moammar Gadhafi’s demise) also are major oil suppliers.

The strait’s importance cannot be overstated. In 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, 15.5 million barrels of oil went through the narrow, 34-mile wide passageway a day. Closing it could have serious global implications and likely lead to destabilization and military action in the Gulf. The threat alone has pushed up oil prices.

And it drew a quick response from the United States: “Interference with the transit or passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated,” Pentagon press secretary George Little says.

Strong words, but based on past actions, it is doubtful the mullahs who run Iran think there is much to fear beyond heated rhetoric from the White House.

If this doesn’t move President Obama to give the go-ahead to the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will create thousands of jobs and bring oil from Canada’s generous shale oil deposits to U.S. refineries and consumers, what will?

It’s fine to promote alternatives, but the fact is the world will be dependent on fossil fuels for decades.

And there are still plentiful sources to be tapped, whether from offshore drilling in our own Gulf of Mexico, sources here in New Mexico or the huge Bakken oil field in North Dakota, which at 2 billion barrels could be the largest ever in the lower 48 states.

It’s time for the Obama administration to view this through the lens of national security, and the sad truth is, alternative energy sources are not yet ready.

The U.S. and its allies are right to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, almost certainly directed at producing a nuclear bomb. That makes it more important than ever that the world’s energy security is not held hostage by the whims of radicals who really don’t like us.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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