If we don't change our course we'll end up where we're headed.
Since September 11, it has become evident that there is a close connection between
America's national security problems and global dependence on oil. Throughout the
world, oil money has fueled terrorism and armed conflict and has sustained oppressive
regimes. As consumer of a quarter of the world's oil and holder of only three percent
of its reserves, the U.S. is heavily dependent on foreign oil. Since over 60% of America's
oil is imported, terror organizations like al-Qaeda and its affiliates can disrupt the
free flow of crude oil into the U.S. by cutting oil transportation routes and by
attacking tankers and pipelines. The U.S. is forced to pay a growing price in blood and
treasury to maintain the uninterrupted oil supply upon which our economy depends. Without
expeditious action our
dependency is only going to grow in the next decade.
Conservation and exploration of new oil fields can at best buy us a few more years of
status quo. The only way to ensure long-term energy security is to strip oil of its strategic value, which derives
from its domination of the transportation sector (contrary to popular perception, very little of U.S.
electricity is generated from oil today - we have already weaned electricity off of petroleum.)
We can reduce demand for oil in the transportation sector by a shift to a global economy based on
next-generation fuels. Technologies such as flexible fuel
vehicles and plug in hybrids open the door to fuel competition and enable drivers
to choose amongst a variety of alternative liquid fuels, petroleum fuels, and electricity. We are fortunate to
live in an age in which technology
provides us with a wealth of energy sources that can be easily, cleanly,
safely, and economically provide fuel for automotive transportation, among them
25% of the world's coal reserves, built and unutilized nuclear energy
infrastructure, and renewables. There is therefore no reason for us to continue to
be dependent on hostile countries for our energy needs. There is also no reason for
us to compromise our lifestyles, to settle for small cars or give up the joy of
driving the open road that is so deep a part of the free spirit of America.
Moving beyond oil could be our best economic
stimulus. Every industrial and technological revolution in history brought with it an
economic boom. The energy revolution will likely do the same. Building an infrastructure for
mass production of next-generation cars and fuels would generate millions of jobs around
the world, and revitalize the automobile industry as well as other related industries.
The shift from oil will bring about significant geopolitical changes and could
reshape America's strategic landscape in a way more conducive to prosperity and global
security. Fuel choice in the transportation sector will allow more countries to generate
growing portions of
their energy needs domestically. The U.S. and its allies will no longer be forced to fight oil
wars in the Middle East or be subjected to supply disruptions and price manipulations as
during the 1970s-1980s. Above all, a shift from oil is the best weapon against America's
enemies, who derive their power from oil and use it to fuel terror and spread hatred toward
There is no better legacy we can leave our children than a secure, energy independent
nation. Though the transition to an era of energy security and independence is a monumental
task, nothing we do will have more lasting benefit for more people.