As the United States geared up for election in the spring and summer of 2012, I spent three months in Washington DC interviewing experts and policy makers working on energy security and energy policy. I attended talks and roundtable discussions focused on energy from every ideological angle. Energy played an important role in debates leading up to the election, and talk of the shale revolution was high on the agenda. With growth in American energy production, energy independence and reducing oil imports were at the forefront of commitments by both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. However, they disagreed on what role the government should play in the energy system, on environmental regulation of the energy industry, and on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Despite this, one of the results of bringing up energy security and energy policy in Washington is immediate cries of: ‘but the US doesn’t have an energy policy!’. In some cases, this claim is based on the idea that the US energy system is independent of government; in other cases, it’s a complaint that federal energy policy isn’t clear enough. It may be true that US energy security strategy and policy are uncoordinated and unclear, but the government does routinely pursue policy in the name of energy security. Meanwhile, the supposed independence of the energy industry is a fiction. First, fossil fuel lobbies exert a huge amount of influence on government, through donations, lobbying and other pressure tactics. Second, the federal government intervenes in the energy market in myriad ways: sometimes directly, as during the Unocal affair in 2005 (Nyman 2014) and through bilateral energy agreements with foreign nations, and other times less directly, through subsidies, regulation and legislation on energy which all affect energy production and consumption. As noted by Bamberger, ‘not only does the nation have an energy policy, it has adopted several distinct policy approaches over the years’ (2003: 1).