Make us your home page
Instagram

PolitiFact.com | Tampa Bay Times

PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton's claim that U.S. is energy independent goes too far

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Frontline Outreach and Youth Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally at Frontline Outreach and Youth Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

The statement

"We are now, for the first time ever, energy independent."

Hillary Clinton, in the second presidential debate

The ruling

If the United States used only foreign energy sources, it would clearly be energy dependent. And if it used only domestic energy sources, it would clearly be energy independent. On this spectrum, the United States is definitely closer to independence than dependence, and getting closer every year. But it's not at full energy independence yet.

The United States still consumes about 11 percent more energy than it produces, so it has to import from other nations to meet that need.

In 2015, the United States produced 87.9 quadrillion BTUs of energy and used 97.3 quadrillion BTUs, according to the Energy Information Administration, an office of the federal government. The United States imported about 11 quadrillion more BTUs of energy than it exported in 2015.

This means "the U.S. is not energy independent," said Kenneth Medlock, senior director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University.

That said, imports have been trending down significantly since the mid 2000s. The EIA has projected that the United States will switch from a net importer of energy to a net exporter sometime between 2020 and 2030.

"The U.S. is not currently energy independent and, while it is moving toward energy independence, it is not expected to be so for about a decade," said Paul Holtberg, leader of the EIA's Analysis Integration Team.

This shift is happening because of changes in both supply and demand. Domestic natural gas and oil production has skyrocketed since hydraulic fracturing, the extraction method known as fracking, came into regular use in the late 2000s. At the same time, Americans are using less energy as a result of growing efficiency.

Going by net imports versus net exports, the United States is currently a larger net importer than it was from the 1950s (as far back as the EIA data goes) through the 1970s, and again in the mid 1980s. So current net import levels are not unprecedented.

When people think of energy independence, they often think of oil because it's the one source of energy that the United States has historically imported from potentially unstable areas. While the United States is essentially self-sufficient as it pertains to coal, natural gas and renewable energy sources, it still imports about 24 percent of its oil needs, even with the increase in fracking.

Even so, Marilyn Brown, a professor of sustainable systems at Georgia Institute of Technology, told PolitiFact that she thinks the United States is energy independent because it could meet its oil needs from a friendly country, like Mexico or Canada, if the oil market in one of its other top supplier countries became unstable.

North America as a whole is arguably energy independent, in that it produces all the energy it consumes on a net basis, several experts pointed out.

Clinton's statement is not accurate and we rate it False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton's claim that U.S. is energy independent goes too far 10/14/16 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2016 5:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works

    Retail

    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach

    Retail

    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)