Can U.S.A. Kick the Oil Habit?

High oil prices have a silver lining: They encourage oil-consumption efficiency.

Published: 18-Oct-2004

Can the United States kick the oil habit? A new study says that it can.

It may ultimately have little choice, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying that oil could fairly soon cost as much as $100 a barrel.

But high oil prices have a silver lining: They encourage oil-consumption efficiency. This was a lesson of the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which led to increased fuel-efficiency — which paid off, at least for a while, in increased economic growth and reduced dependence on oil imports. By the mid-1980s, the ‘70s oil-price surge had led to a 17-percent decline in oil consumption and a 50-percent drop in imports, while gross domestic product grew by 27 percent.

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