Policy and Practice in North American Energy Security

By Alison Terry

The goal of achieving energy security provides a unique opportunity for cooperation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The United States and Canada have shaped their energy policies in response to the oil supply shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, while Mexico is currently experiencing a reduction in its own domestic oil supply. Energy security is often associated with energy independence and self-sufficiency for supply. This strategy remains impractical for the three North American countries because they are already interconnected in energy supply and demand. Due to the geographic distribution of raw fuels and need for exploration of unconventional resources, North American energy security will be better served by a policy of energy interdependence. The relationships forged through the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation have set a policy precedent for trilateral cooperation. Energy security is a crosscutting issue because it encompasses trade, labor flows, infrastructure, and defense. This study reviews the regulatory frameworks of the oil, natural gas, and electrical markets in the three North American countries to assess the energy security environment on the continent. It then proposes possible avenues for integrating the continental energy market, which could serve the greater purpose of increasing the sense of collective identity for North America.

About the author:
Alison Terry is a Master’s candidate at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Her research interests include the geography of conflict and quantifying border permeability using GIS and remote sensing. She is a recipient of the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Graduate Scholarship for 2011-2012. Ms. Terry holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College and has previously worked as a Biologist for the US Geological Survey.

Image courtesy of Christian Mehlführer.

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