By Don Briggs, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Energy independence is the popular talk at the water cooler. However, it is vital to understand that energy independence walks hand and hand with energy security. It is a marriage that is a necessity for the future of the United States’ national security. Why does the current instability in Iraq cause our gas prices to jump? Why should anything going on in Libya affect the United States energy market? One simple reason: the United States has been dependent on foreign resources for several decades. Our dependence has not been on just any ole’ country. Specifically, we have been dependent on the Organization of Exporting Countries (OPEC) for our yearly imports of petroleum. To be more specific, the latest data from the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that we imported 5.83 MMbbl/d of petroleum from OPEC countries—or 55% of our net imports for 2012. This fact quickly answers the previous question of why our market is disrupted by Middle Eastern instability. Naturally, looking at this data, it would be accurate to say that energy independence needs to occur sooner than later. While this is an accurate argument, the broader scope of energy security cannot be ignored. No one would argue that the United States is a world super power. However, as instability continues in the Middle East, and the demand for natural resources in America grows, an obvious tie between our power and our natural resource stability can be seen. As the oil and natural gas supply increases with each new day here in the United States, it is vital that our federal government and our individual states recognize the importance of free enterprise. Rather than hamper new development and exploration, our nation should be doing everything possible to encourage new oil and gas business. Will oil and gas be the fuel of the future? Authorities on all fronts argue this issue daily. For today, oil and natural gas are the leading fuels that literally power our country. Petroleum products can be found in nearly any item you pick up. What are the tangibles of energy security? For starters, the U.S. Department of Defense relies on petroleum for over 75% of its needs. Another example of energy security is the fact that nearly every farming and manufactured food and household product is made through the use of petroleum. Just as Russia has done with the Ukraine by cutting off natural gas supplies, similarly, if Saudi Arabia decided to diminish their imports to the United States, immediate chaos would be thrown into the U.S. trade market. What is the solution to achieving energy independence and security? The United States is on the right path. Developing our own technologies and our own natural resources will only speed up the process of establishing our long-term energy security. The ripple effect, however, on our energy security and independence starts small. For example, when a local or parish/county government overregulates or prohibits oil and gas operations, even this action decelerates our long-term safety and strength as a nation. Don Briggs is president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA). This blog post originally appeared on the LOGA website.