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National Security Experts Agree: The Only Way to Reduce Vulnerability to Gas Price Spikes is to Use Less Oil

Rob Perks

Posted April 18, 2012 in Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil

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When it comes to talking about America's energy security, the issue usually is presented by pundits and politicians as a way to shovel more coal and drill more holes to satisfy our country's appetite for energy. Perhaps it's not surprising that those shilling hardest for dirty energy tend to be employed by or otherwise financially beholden to fossil fuel industries. That these same fossil fools usually denounce or dismiss clean alternative energy and renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal power is predictable.

For this reason, when it comes to suggestions for strengthening America's energy security, I tend to listen to more credible messengers -- most notably, national security experts. The American Security Project is a non-profit, bipartisan public policy and research organization with the self-described mission of "fostering knowledge and understanding of a range of national security issues, promoting debate about the appropriate use of American power, and cultivating strategic responses to 21st century challenges."

ASP just issued a new report that examines the soaring gasoline prices Americans are facing. The analysis in "Cause and Effect" underscores that the price of gas is intimately interconnected with crude oil prices, which are set by global markets.

In short, ASP concludes that America cannot look for short-term solutions to what is a clear long-term problem.

Since America is critically dependent upon oil for its economic well-being, ASP makes clear that the only solutions are long-term methods to reduce the amount of oil we use across the country.

Summary findings:

  • The current price of gasoline marks the third time in 4 years that prices have gone above $3.75 per gallon.
  • Gasoline prices are very closely correlated with the price of crude oil.
  • Oil prices, in turn, are tied to events largely outside of America’s control.
  • Oil prices depend on the interplay of supply, demand, and the perception of future changes in supply or demand.
  • The only way to reduce our vulnerability to spikes in oil prices is to use less of it

Read the study to learn more.

As the CEO of the American Security Project, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.), put it:

America's dependence on oil, regardless of whether it is produced here at home or imported from abroad, is a serious threat to our national security. The recent spike in oil prices is a symptom of a deeper sickness. This is a long term problem that requires long term solutions.” 

As ASP's Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate Policy, Andrew Holland, said:

“So long as we depend upon oil for virtually all our transportation needs, we will remain vulnerable to extreme spikes in oil prices, like we're seeing now. The price of oil is not in America's control, regardless of how much we drill here.”

He added: “The only solution is to use less oil. Luckily, America can do this; we're developing andcommercializing the technology now that can solve this problem. Next generation biofuels, new electric vehicles, and increased fuel efficiency are succeeding in reducing America's dependence on oil. We need to sustain and accelerate these trends so that the next global price spike goes unnoticed."

I would add that transforming our nation's transportation system to meet 21st century needs is another excellent solution to our energy addiction. After all, with more transportation choices, we can all drive less and save more fuel, money and time.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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