For decades, the goal of reducing the Nation’s dependence upon foreign energy
sources has been a matter on which virtually all Americans could agree. Unfortunately,
differences about how best to accomplish that goal, with what means, how rapidly and at
what cost to taxpayers and consumers have, to date, precluded the sort of progress that
might have been expected before now.
Today, we can no longer afford to allow such differences to postpone urgent
action on national energy independence. After all, we now confront what might be called
a "perfect storm" of strategic, economic and environmental conditions that, properly
understood, demand that we effect over the next four years a dramatic reduction in the
quantities of oil imported from unstable and hostile regions of the world.
America consumes a quarter of the world's oil supply while holding a mere 3% of
global oil reserves. It is therefore forced to import over 60% of its oil, and this
dependency is growing. Since most of the world’s oil is controlled by countries that are
unstable or at odds with the United States this dependency is a matter of national security.
At the strategic level, it is dangerous to be buying billions of dollars worth of oil
from nations that are sponsors of or allied with radical Islamists who foment hatred
against the United States. The petrodollars we provide such nations contribute materially
to the terrorist threats we face. In time of war, it is imperative that our national
expenditures on energy be redirected away from those who use them against us.
Even if the underwriting of terror were not such a concern, our present
dependency creates unacceptable vulnerabilities. In Iraq and Saudi Arabia, America’s
enemies have demonstrated that they can advance their strategic objective of inflicting
damage on the United States, its interests and economy simply by attacking critical
overseas oil infrastructures and personnel. These targets are readily found not only in the
Mideast but in other regions to which Islamists have ready access (e.g., the Caspian Basin
and Africa). To date, such attacks have been relatively minor and their damage easily
repaired. Over time, they are sure to become more sophisticated and their destructive
effects will be far more difficult, costly and time-consuming to undo.
Another strategic factor is China's burgeoning demand for oil. Last year, China's
oil imports were up 30% from the previous year, making it the world's No. 2 petroleum
user after the United States. The bipartisan, congressionally mandated U.S.-China
Economic and Security Review Commission reported that: "China's large and rapidly
growing demand for oil is putting pressure on global oil supplies. This pressure is likely
to increase in the future, with serious implications for U.S. oil prices and supplies."
Oil dependence has considerable economic implications. Shrinking supply and
rising demand translate into higher costs. Both American consumers and the U.S.
economy are already suffering from the cumulative effect of recent increases in gas
prices. Even now, fully one-quarter of the U.S. trade deficit is associated with oil
imports. By some estimates, we lose 27,000 jobs for every billion dollars of additional
oil imports. Serious domestic and global economic dislocation would almost certainly
attend still-higher costs for imported petroleum and/or disruption of supply.
Finally, environmental considerations argue for action to reduce imports of
foreign oil. While experts and policy-makers disagree about the contribution the burning
of fossil fuels is making to the planet’s temperatures, it is certainly desirable to find ways
to obtain energy while minimizing the production of greenhouse gases and other
The combined effects of this "perfect storm" require concerted action, at last,
aimed at reducing the Nation's reliance on imported oil from hostile or unstable sources
and the world's dependence on oil at large. Fortunately, with appropriate vision and
leadership, we can make major strides in this direction by exploiting currently available
technologies and infrastructures to greatly diminish oil consumption in the transportation
sector, which accounts for two thirds of our oil consumption.
The attached Blueprint for Energy Security: "Set America Free" spells out
practical ways in which real progress on "fuel choice" can be made over the next four
years and beyond. To be sure, full market transformation will take a longer time. In the
case of the transportation sector, it may require 15-20 years. That is why it is imperative
to begin the process without delay.
We call upon America's leaders to pledge to adopt this Blueprint, and embark,
along with our democratic allies, on a multilateral initiative to encourage reduced
dependence on petroleum. In so doing, they can reasonably promise to: deny adversaries
the wherewithal they use to harm us; protect our quality of life and economy against the
effects of cuts in foreign energy supplies and rising costs; and reduce by as much as 50%
emissions of undesirable pollutants. In light of the "perfect storm" now at hand, we
simply can afford to do no less.
Blueprint for Energy Security