Reliance on Foreign Oil Undercuts U.S. Interests

Third term Senator and Republican presidential hopeful, Sam Brownback of Kansas states the obvious in this oped piece.

Published: 26-Sep-2007

Energy security. Energy diversity. Energy independence. Given America’s involvement in world energy markets and the global economy, such terms can seem broad, ambiguous and far-reaching. What does it really mean to be “energy independent”?
One thing is clear: It is irresponsible and unwise to continue to subject America to the production whims and financial decisions of OPEC and other foreign cartels in order to meet much of our energy demand.

Last week, oil prices reached an all-time high of more than $83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, half of America’s imported oil in June 2007 came from countries belonging to OPEC, an oil cartel made up of 11 nations including Iran, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela. This amount represents more than 182 million barrels of OPEC oil for the month of June. At $80 per barrel, the U.S. would pay more than $14.5 billion for a month’s supply of OPEC oil.

It is impossible to avoid coming to the conclusion that while OPEC member-state dictators such as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez insult our nation’s leaders, threaten the sovereignty of our allies and in some cases fund terrorism, we face the prospect of pumping more than 14 billion American dollars into their economies — every single month.

However, it is possible to decrease America’s reliance on foreign oil.

First, we must increase diversity within our nation’s energy supply by looking to domestically produced biofuels such as corn and cellulosic ethanol and soy-based biodiesel. Cellulosic ethanol is derived from nonfood sources such as switchgrass, plant waste and sawdust. Companies in the United States, Canada and Spain have made tremendous strides toward developing full-scale cellulosic ethanol production facilities, as well as increasing corn-based ethanol availability.

Second, energy exploration and production must be more prevalent within our own borders. We must take advantage of the oil and oil shale available in America, both on land and, in some cases, offshore. We should explore prudently and wisely use the environmentally sensitive technologies available today as we take advantage of our country’s domestic energy supplies.

Finally, it is crucial that we conserve energy in America. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology can help us meet this goal. These vehicles contain gas/electric hybrid engines similar to those found in today’s traditional hybrid models but have the additional ability to draw power from a household’s electrical outlet. Since most commuters drive 50 miles or less each work day, we can drastically reduce our aggregate consumption of foreign oil by further embracing this electric technology.

Reducing our reliance on foreign oil will help create American jobs, improve our environment and create a more secure energy infrastructure.

We might also finally find the answers to the questions many have asked: Without a largely U.S. supported oil economy, would Hugo Chavez be as brazen in his virulent anti-American sentiment? Would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to defy international rule of law? I believe we all benefit when these questions are pursued.

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