Publish date:

Energy Independence? Tell Me Another One!

The concept of energy self-sufficiency is mythical. Every president, Republican or Democrat, has sung the same song.

"Let me conclude by restating our overall objective. It can be summed up in one word that best characterizes this Nation and its essential nature. That word is "independence. From its beginning, 200 years ago, throughout its history, America has made great sacrifices of blood and treasure to achieve and maintain its independence. Our independence will depend on maintaining and achieving self-sufficiency in energy. I have a series of plans and goals set to ensure that, by the end of this decade, Americans will not have to rely on any source of energy beyond our own. As far as energy is concerned, this means we will hold our fate and our future in our hands alone. As we look to the future, we can do so confident that the energy crisis will be resolved, not only for our time, but for all time. We will once again have plentiful supplies of energy, which helped to build the greatest industrial nation and one of the highest standards of living in the world. The capacity for self-sufficiency in energy is a great goal. It is also an essential goal, and we are going to achieve it."

That could have been Tuesday night's speech from President Obama, but was actually President Richard Nixon speaking on November 25, 1973.

Back then, we imported about 31% of our oil needs. Today, we import about 64% of our oil needs and, as everybody is Washington likes to say, it comes from nations that don't like us very much.

The concept of energy self-sufficiency, or the concept of energy independence, is mythical. It ain't going to happen. Every president has sung from the same hymn book, because it just sounds so good.

TheStreet Recommends

If we stopped singing and started really planning, we could at least make some headway, but to go from 31% of our oil needs being imported to 64% does miss the target by just a little bit.

Vincent Farrell Jr. is chief investment officer for Soleil Securities Group and a regular guest on CNBC and other national print and broadcast media.

Prior to joining Soleil in August 2008, Farrell was a principal of Scotsman Capital Management. Before that, he was chairman of Victory Capital Management of Cleveland and chairman of Victory SBSF Capital Management in New York. He was a founding partner of Spears Benzak Salomon & Farrell, which was acquired by KeyCorp in 1995. Vince held a variety of positions in his 23 years at SBSF, including chief investment officer, and he served as the portfolio manager on a number of the firm's largest client relationships.

Prior to joining SBSF, Vince spent nine years at Smith Barney as a vice president, sales.

Vince graduated from Princeton University in 1969 and received his MBA from the Iona College Graduate School of Business in 1972.