Now don't get me wrong, something is always better than nothing. But give me a break. Is this the best we can do? If it is, what a sorry state of affairs in America! The news referred to is several days old and unless you’re from another planet, you heard about it already - President Obama’s speech that the U.S. must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. In fact, Americans have heard it so many times in the last 40 years that it seems to be nothing more than a sequel to Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day.”
Dateline, January 28, 2003: During President George W. Bush’s second State of the Union Address, he launched the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative to ensure our nation’s long-term energy security and a clean environment. Using hydrogen to fuel our economy can reduce U.S. dependence on imported petroleum.
He stated, “Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. ….. a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.”
“Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.”
“With a new national commitment, ….. the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen and pollution-free. Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”
Now, speaking this Wednesday, March 30, 2011, President Obama again called for reducing oil imports by a third by 2025. Obama’s speech came at a time when U.S. gasoline prices are up nearly 80 cents a gallon from a year ago. Prices averaged $3.59 a gallon as of Monday. He raised alarm over the nation's glaring vulnerability to foreign oil. Obama said he would measure progress against 2008 figures, before he took office, when net oil imports averaged 11 million barrels a day (b/d).
Oil import figures and statistics abound. Statements such as “U.S. crude oil imports are now below that figure (11 million b/d), give only a partial understanding of the magnitude of the problem. A complete picture of U.S. appetite for foreign oil is rarely given. The following chart provides a comprehensive view of the situation. Over a 30 year period, U.S. Imports of Crude Oil (in million barrels per month) are shown on a monthly basis from January 1981 to January 2011
Source EIA http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm
U.S crude oil imports were relatively low from 1981 to 1985. The trend resumed upward from 1985 through 2006, then remained flat through 2007 before dropping in 2008 and 2009. Last half or 2010 saw an increase in imports.
A Few noteworthy statistics can be drawn from the chart. This includes the change in oil imports from:
The data clearly shows a 96% increase in imported oil from year 1981 to year 2010. Also, Obama’s term in office from February 2009 through January 2011 has shown a 13% decline in imports from the previous two years of Bush’s administration. However, while 2007 and 2008 has shown a drop in imports from 2010, imports for 2009 and 2010 remain relatively flat.
Further analysis is required to determine the effect on oil imports that resulted from the deep recession and skyrocketing oil prices in 2008 and federal initiatives that have been ongoing since the mid 70’s.
President Obama says cutting our dependence on imported oil depends on two goals: finding and producing more oil at home, and reducing our dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.
It is commendable that Obama said that the federal government will lead by example, announcing a plan to direct federal agencies to purchase only alternative fuel, hybrid or electric vehicles by 2015. His administration yesterday released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which outlines specific goals and plans for reducing foreign oil dependence while creating cost-effective, environmentally sound alternative energy solutions.
Inclosing, while the near term trend is in the right direction more needs to be done in terms of developing a cohesive energy policy that stays the course and shows results on its own merits. Will wait and see the merits, strength and support of Obama’s Blueprint to ensure a sustainable future for energy in the United States. Just hope it is a realistic plan of action rather than another change in direction that has plagued America far too long.
On final caveat, the initiative must cover not only energy security but also environmental benefits and economic competitiveness. Use of domestic resources such as oil and coal will keep dollars in the U.S., but may not benefit the environment.
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