Foreign Oil

FOREIGN OIL….Over at Mahablog, Barbara O’Brien rightly mocks Neal Boortz for saying “The left doesn’t want us to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Their goal is a weaker America.” Nice try, Neal. Whatever else you can say about us, we lefties have been pretty assiduous in our conviction that Americans should drive less and use less gasoline.

But as long as we’re on the subject, I want to pick a nit: short of either a major catastrophe or a dramatic scientific breakthrough, we will never reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Period. Oil is a global commodity, and even if we reduce our use of oil, the oil we do buy will come from the cheapest producers. And the cheapest producers are all in the Middle East.

In fact, it’s only going to get worse. For all the fuss over ANWR, Barbara correctly points out that it won’t really produce that much oil. Overall, U.S. oil production reached its peak three decades ago and has been steadily declining since. In another three decades we won’t produce any oil at all. So no matter what we do, our dependence on foreign oil is going to grow.

70% of our oil use is for transportation, mainly cars and trucks. Reducing that use via conservation, higher efficiency cars, and use of alternative fuels is a good idea. But in the short and medium term (5-20 years) there’s really nothing much we can do that will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. It’s a chimera.

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription