Americans take it for granted that gasoline should be inexpensive and unlimited, but these conditions are not guaranteed. We now import some 13 million barrels of oil per day – over 60% of total U.S. daily consumption – at an annual cost of $300 billion. The world demand for oil is now at nearly 86 million barrels per day, with the U.S. accounting for nearly a quarter of it and with absolute demand growth in China and the U.S. about equal.
World oil production capacity is growing slowly, barely able to meet world demand. With such a tight balance, even slight supply disruptions can trigger price spikes and shortages.
The world’s energy delivery system is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and political and economic manipulation. Trouble can come from hot spots like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela or transit choke points such as the straits of Hormuz and Malacca. Military intervention in Iran would increase the likelihood of a blockade. Supply disruptions and terrorist attacks in “Oil Shockwave” – a crisis simulation exercise carried out by a bipartisan team of national security experts led by Senators Lugar and Lieberman – quickly drove the oil prices to over $150 per barrel and gasoline and heating oil to over $5 per gallon. [1, 2] These risks were dramatized in CNN’s April 2006 documentary, “We Were Warned: Tomorrow’s Oil Crisis” [1, 2]
A Category 5 hurricane roars through Houston, destroying oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines – the complex system that provides a quarter of our nation's daily fuel supply. Three days later, terrorists attack two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier. In the days and weeks that follow, gasoline prices hit record highs, food prices soar as trucks cannot afford to make deliveries, and Americans begin to realize that their very way of life is in peril. In We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis, CNN's Frank Sesno explores the potential ripple effects of this frightening scenario. The events depicted are hypothetical, but oil experts believe the scenario is entirely plausible. His interviews with energy experts reveal that we are nearing the point at which the world, led by the U.S. and China, will begin to consume more oil than can be pumped from the ground and the oceans.
Similarly, the December 2005 US News and World Report showed that heating oil and natural gas shortages in a cold Northeastern winter could lead to blackouts, industrial shutdowns, layoffs and breakdowns in public services.
According to a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds (67%) of the American public said that decreasing our dependence on Middle East oil is “a very important step in preventing terrorism.” Calls for a massive shift towards energy conservation and renewable energy are also coming from national security advocates, corporate leaders and military analysts. like the Council on Foreign Relations, Senator Richard Lugar, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former CIA Director James Woolsey (now representing the Committee on the Present Danger), FedEx CEO Frederick Smith, retired Marine Corps commandant General P.X. Kelley, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. There’s even an Army Corps of Engineers report calling for all Army facilities to go green.
No one who is honestly assessing the decline of American leverage around the world due to our energy dependence can fail to see that energy is the albatross of U.S. national security.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations committee
[A] single well-designed attack could send oil to well over $100 a barrel and devastate the world’s economy. That reality, among other risks, and the fact that our current transportation infrastructure is now locked into oil, should be sufficient to convince any objective observer that oil dependence today creates serious and pressing dangers for the U.S. and other oil-consuming nations.
Former Secretary of State George Schultz and
Former CIA Director James Woolsey
(now representing Committee on the Present Danger)
Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geo-strategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad….Green is the new red, white and blue.
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times [1, 2]
Foreign Policy magazine surveyed over 100 top national security experts, and found that one of the top recommendations for weakening terrorist networks was reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. An increasing number of military analysts write about this.
Dependence on imported oil, particularly from the Middle East, has become the elephant in the foreign policy living room...we must also find a way to extricate ourselves from reliance on the Middle East and other oil-producing countries. …The simultaneous loss of several oil-producing nations due to boycott, sabotage, or war would be an economic catastrophe.
Lt. Col. John Amidon, Joint Forces Quarterly, Aug. 2005
We must act now to develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to transition to other energy sources…Our best options for meeting future energy requirements are energy efficiency and renewable sources…Energy efficiency is the least expensive, most readily available and environmentally friendly way to stretch our current energy supplies…the potential savings for the Army is about 30 percent of current and future consumption…The Army needs to present its perspective to higher authorities and be prepared to proceed regardless of the national measures taken or not taken.
"Energy Trends and their Implications for U.S. Army Installations," Army Corps of Engineers, Sept. 2005
A new Pentagon study warns that the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil -- the lifeblood of fighter jets, warships, and tanks -- will make the US military's ability to respond to hot spots around the world "unsustainable in the long term." The April 2007 study, “Transforming the Way DoD Looks at Energy,” concludes that the military must “fundamentally transform” assumptions about energy, and take immediate steps toward running weapons systems and aircraft on alternative and renewable fuels.