We have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.–President Bush, 2006
In the absence of revolutionary changes in energy policy, we are risking multiple disasters for our country that will constrain living standards, undermine our foreign- policy goals, and leave us highly vulnerable to the machinations of rogue states.–Senator Richard Lugar, 2006
Our ever- worsening addiction to oil makes America less secure. Since 1990, we have fought two wars in the Persian Gulf. We suffered a major terrorist attack funded largely by Persian Gulf oil money. Every year we send more than $250 billion overseas because we import most of our oil. Oil prices keep spiking above $70 a barrel, and gasoline above $3 a gallon. The economic lifeblood of our country is held hostage to countries that are antidemocratic and politically unstable–and to terrorists who keep targeting the world’s oil infrastructure. Price spikes above $100 a barrel (and $4 a gallon) are all but inevitable in the coming years. And many fear we may be close to seeing worldwide oil production peak and then decline, which will bring an era of steadily rising oil and gasoline prices.
It’s no wonder that politicians–even those who don’t worry about global warming–keep talking about oil. So why haven’t we taken any serious action on oil for decades? The answer is simple– reducing U.S. oil consumption requires a major government-led effort, such as much tougher mileage standards, and our political leaders have rejected such efforts (except for ones that are merely cosmetic).
The astonishing January 2006 statement by President Bush’s EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, bears repeating: “Are we going to tell people to stop driving their cars, or do we start investing in technology? That’s the answer, investing in those technologies.” This false choice leaves the nation with no oil policy except strong, empty rhetoric suggesting that the cure for our addiction to oil can be found in happy talk about future technology.