Frank J. Gaffney on Energy Security
The explosion of a BP oil refinery not far from Houston last week left at least 15 dead and over 100 wounded. It also served as the latest, vivid reminder of a truth we have for too long chosen to ignore: This nation is dangerously vulnerable to severe economic dislocation and possibly dire national-security threats as a result of its excessive reliance on imported oil and the infrastructure that transforms most of that oil into fuel for our transportation sector.
Of course, the limited number of aging and, in some cases at least, increasingly dangerous refineries is but one aspect of this vulnerability. It is not a trivial one, however. Even before this mishap in Texas, domestic demand for gasoline was so high and the capacity to meet it so constrained that refineries had to coordinate scheduled maintenance lest supply fall short, resulting in lines at gas stations across the country. We will be very lucky if this as-yet-unexplained incident does not produce such an outcome, as well as still-higher prices at the pump.
Terrorists have certainly figured out that such impacts can be achieved — and possibly much worse — with attacks on other parts of the international infrastructure upon which the United States currently relies for more than 50 percent of its oil needs. Under present circumstances, pipelines blown in Iraq and Saudi Arabia have a ripple effect that can extend to America. Ports and loading facilities can be attacked and taken offline for months or years at a time. Oil-laden tankers can be sunk at sea, with both devastating ecological and perhaps strategic consequences.
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