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 pollutants.

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