Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Addicted to Oil"

These words were spoken by President Bush in his State of Union address earlier this evening. He said, "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world."

Several points that Dan Caldwell and I make in Seeking Security in an Insecure World support the concern expressed by President Bush:

  • "The extent of American dependence on oil can best be captured in two key numbers. Petroleum accounts for 40 percent of the energy consumed in the United States; in the transportation sector, the figure is 97 percent." (p. 160)
  • "Questions surrounding the dependability of oil-exporting countries (that is, the combination of their internal stability and their willingness to supply particular customers, including the United States, Japan, and the European Union) take on considerable urgency when one looks at who the leading oil exporters are. The top ten net petroleum exporters are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Kuwait, Nigeria, Mexico, and Algeria. Only Norway and Mexico are considered 'free,' according to the annual assessment of political liberties and civil rights conducted by Freedom House. Saudi Arabia's monarchy, in contrast, is considered one of the world's most repressive regimes. Several countries on the list are also among the world's most corrupt business environments." (p. 161)
  • "The dilemmas associated with petroleum politics are becoming more, not less, difficult to address, because oil consumption continues to increase worldwide. The U.S. Department of Energy projects global oil consumption to grow an average of 1.9 percent per year between 2003 and 2025. For its part, the United States, which used 19.71 million barrels of oil per day in 2001, will be consuming 28.30 million barrels per day by 2025. The annual rate of growth in petroleum consumption in the United States from 2003 to 2025 is projected to be almost double what it was from 1980 to 2003. Meanwhile, domestic production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels per day and has been slowly declining ever since." (pp. 161-62)

This last point describes the problem that President Bush seeks to address through his proposals for new fuel technologies designed to reduce American dependence on imported oil. His prescription is good--as far as it goes.

If only he could have also brought himself to mention conservation--the one solution that doesn't require years of research and development.