For the first time in 40 years imports of oil are declining, down about 20 per cent since 2005, but 100% of our oil is priced in the global market. The oil threat to our security is not having supplies cut off. Instead it is the price of oil that can damage, even cripple, the US economy, whenever it exceeds $125 per barrel for sustained periods.
To secure our economy from the oil weapon that Iran is wielding in its showdown with the international community over its nuclear bomb program, America must use 5 keys to decrease both oil imports and, just as importantly, the oil intensity of the US economy.
- Increase domestic oil production;
- Increase fuel efficiency in transportation;
- Substitute natural gas for oil, gasoline, and diesel;
- Substitute electricity for oil, gasoline, and diesel;
- Substitute biofuels for oil, gasoline, and diesel.
Three of these 5 keys are moving forward as needed. Domestic oil production is now actually increasing for the first time in 35 years. Fuel efficiency standards for cars have been raised once since 2009 and are proposed to be raised again to an impressive 54 miles per gallon. Ethanol and biodiesel are approaching the 1 million barrels per day equivalent, a meaningful contribution to energy security, and continue to increase. But the use of natural gas and electricity to substitute for gasoline lag far behind where they must be, for the oil weapon to be removed from Iranian and other malevolent hands.
Using more natural gas and electricity and less oil must be a strategic imperative for US national defense and economic policy. Why? One answer. Unfortunately $150 per barrel oil remains both distinctly possible in any year and devastating to the US economy. To remove this threat, the US must use all 5 keys to energy independence.