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National Journal: How Can The U.S. Wean Itself Off Oil?

Author: Amy Harder
May 10, 2010

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How can the U.S. reduce its dependency on oil -- both foreign and domestic?

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has spotlighted the risks that accompany offshore drilling, and environmental groups have responded by demanding a ban. Advocates of drilling in U.S. coastal waters counter that this country needs to become less reliant on imports from the Middle East. Forty percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. comes from oil. And 70 percent of that oil is imported.

Will the massive oil spill in the gulf have any impact on the U.S. relationship to oil? Will it spur more investment in so-called clean energy? Will it improve the prospects of climate and energy legislation?

Let's Be Smart About it - Allen Schaeffer

Smarter policy choices and smarter technology choices are our best path to reducing our dependence on oil in the transportation sector. Smarter policy choices are already being made – to increase vehicle fuel economy standards and use more renewable fuels—but without specifiying winners and losers—and letting the marketplace decide. Consumers are responding by investing in technologies that are more energy efficient than conventional gasoline. According to Wards Auto, compared to 2008, 2009 sales of hybrid vehicles grew from 2.1% to 2.9% while sales of clean diesel engines in cars and SUVs jumped from just 2.1 % to 3.7% of all engines.

Wholesale switchovers from one technology to another – like has been proposed by natural gas advocates—hardly makes sense, particularly at the mult-billion dollar level of taxpayer subsidies they are seeking.

Diversifying energy choices does make sense. Government Investments should be properly balanced between incentivizing development of future energy technologies while also increasing the use of currently available energy efficient ones to gain immediate reductions in demand for oil.

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