Kevin Book Feb 12
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Expert Voices

How the oil boom is changing U.S. energy policy

oil tanks in field
Oil tanks at the St. James Strategic Petroleum Reserve Terminal near Baton Rouge. Photo: Julie Dermansky / Corbis via Getty Images

The Bipartisan Budget Act passed last week directs the Department of Energy to sell 100 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, adding to 189 million barrels already scheduled for sale by four other major laws since 2015. (The reserve held 695 million barrels at the start of 2017.)

Why it matters: If Congress is the portfolio manager of America's public assets, lawmakers are rotating out of energy security to secure funds for drug development, infrastructure and other new priorities. The shift away from four decades of scarcity-driven energy policy is likely to reduce support for vehicle efficiency, renewable fuels mandates and alternative energy spending.

Yes, but: Selling government oil into a crowded market can dampen prices, thinning U.S. producer margins and making it harder for new technologies to compete. Meanwhile, electric cars are five to ten years away from gasoline parity and another fifteen years after that from dominating the U.S. fleet.

The bottom line: Oil prices are global and the U.S. accounts for only 10% of supply, which still leaves U.S. drivers vulnerable to disruptions half a world away.

Kevin Book is managing director at ClearView Energy Partners LLC and nonresident senior associate in the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS.

Zachary Basu 1 hour ago
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John Bolton super PAC hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014

John Bolton
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

A super PAC led by incoming White House national security adviser John Bolton hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014 for “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging,” reports the New York Times. Bolton's PAC was reportedly aware at the time that the models it received were derived from harvested Facebook data, according to former Cambridge employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

Why it matters: Per the Times, "Mr. Bolton’s experience with the company appears to have provided a model for how it sold itself to future political campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s." Trump, Bolton and Cambridge Analytica also share a common patron in the billionaire Mercer family, which has yet to comment on the data scandal.

Zachary Basu 2 hours ago
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At least three killed in hostage crisis in southwest France

French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018. Photo by ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images.

A gunman killed at least three people in a supermarket in Trebes, France on Friday, before being fatally shot by police, reports BBC News.

What they're saying: The suspect, who reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, took several hostages and was involved in a police standoff for about three hours. Witnesses say he was heavily armed and was demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the only living suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.