In his exuberance over reports of growing US petroleum production, Tom Keane has set aside his usually careful approach to complex policy questions (“The energy glut,” Op-ed, Dec. 2). It is true that dependence on production elsewhere has led to dangerous entanglements in oil-producing areas, which in turn have justified excessive military spending and reckless engagements. Those bells are going to be difficult to unring, however, and just as military contractors did not suffer from the promised post-Soviet “peace dividend,” so too will a way be found to sustain support for the military-industrial complex in the absence of strategic petroleum interests.
Keane’s analysis also raises, but too blithely dismisses, important concerns about the environmental geography of petroleum production. Nothing has changed to discredit peak oil as a principle. Even if heroic (and dangerous) measures prolong the inevitable decline of production in a region, the decline will come, and as it does, increased costs will push us toward alternatives.