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Global Energy Politics and Urban Sprawl

Open Panel

Abstract

American foreign policy over the last 30-plus years has remained focused on ensuring that the price of petroleum remains relatively low by ensuring an ample supply of oil on the world market. This has been accomplished by concentrating U.S. diplomatic and military attention on the region of the world with the lion’s share of proven petroleum reserves – i.e., the Persian Gulf. While U.S. policy has been successful in attaining American hegemony over the Persian Gulf region, the question of world petroleum supply nonetheless remains. The other issue that has come to the international forefront is global warming. Global policy groups have responded to concerns about petroleum supply and global warming by arguing for the development of technologies (including alternative fuels) to deal with potential energy shortfalls. Today, the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate; US-China Energy Forum; World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) argue that the appropriate response to issues of fossil fuel depletion and climate change is technological efficiency and alternative energy. The New American Century, another economic elite-led policy discussion group, posited a more sinister solution to the political/economic threat posed to the U.S. by declining global petroleum supplies – the conquest of Iraq (the country with reputably the second largest proven reserves of petroleum). Richard "Dick" Cheney, a wealthy oil executive, was a leader of New American Century, and, later, as Vice-President under the Administration of George W. Bush, successfully championed the 2003 Iraq invasion. If U.S. energy demand does continue to grow, urban sprawl will be a prime cause of this. Therefore, urban sprawl, and the oil dependency it spawns, creates a significant vulnerability for the U.S. in a context where global petroleum production is seemingly stagnating and potentially on the cusp of a decline.