For U.S. leaders, the troubled history of the Middle East enhances the allure of using hydraulic fracturing to boost domestic oil and gas extraction. By supplying more of its own energy, the thinking goes, the United States gains leverage internationally and becomes less susceptible to foreign entanglements. U.S. proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline used this reasoning to argue for importing petroleum from the oil sands of Canada, a stable, friendly, democratic neighboring country.


However, as President Obama and others pointed out, this oil would lessen U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern nations only if it were consumed at home, whereas the plan had always been to export it. In fact, in recent years the United States has already diversified its sources of imported petroleum considerably and now receives most from non–Middle Eastern nations, including Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. Diversifying sources of foreign oil was one way in which the United States responded to the 1973 embargo.


U.S. leaders also enacted conservation measures, funded research into renewable energy, and established an emergency stockpile (which today stores one month of oil) deep underground in salt caverns in Louisiana, called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. They also called for secondary extraction at old wells and encouraged the development of additional domestic sources.