Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released an ambitious plan to eliminate America’s dependence on overseas oil by 2030 (online here). In a speech before the Center for American Progress, Merkley laid out the national security, economic and health reasons that such a plan is needed to make our nation stronger and more self-sufficient.
“It has never been more clear how our dependence on oil has made America vulnerable. There are huge risks associated with continuing to hang the success of our entire economy on one volatile commodity,” said Merkley. “My plan sets a realistic goal for aggressively reducing our use of oil based on proven technologies, American innovation and sustained focus on reaching those goals. These are not controversial or far-fetched ideas, but they do require long-term thinking and a new roadmap for our energy future.”
This year, more than two-thirds of America’s oil imports will come from nations that too often do not share our goals or values. This dependence on nations such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, Venezuela, and Nigeria costs our nation billions that could be used here at home and helps governments that often act against our national security interests. It also prevents us from fully investing in home-grown American clean energy and undermines efforts to improve the quality of our air and water.
Further, a simple increase in domestic drilling will not solve the problem. Since America only has 2% of oil reserves, yet uses nearly 25% of all oil, we simply do not have the supply to match demand. And domestic drilling is not without risks, as the ongoing BP oil catastrophe has shown.
In his speech today, Merkley laid out a plan to eliminate all foreign imports from non-North American nations by 2030. It includes steps to ramp up production and use of electric vehicles, increase travel options and improve infrastructure, develop alternative transportation fuels and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings.
Critically, the plan also calls for setting the targets into law and creating a National Council on Energy Security to ensure a sustained focus on reducing the use of oil. The Council would be charged with making recommendations to the President and Congress to ensure America stays on track.
Merkley emphasized that the challenge is primarily not technological, but one of political will, and called on Americans to rise to the challenge: “American entrepreneurs and ingenuity are undoubtedly capable of breaking our addiction to oil. The question for all of us, policymakers and citizens, is whether we’re going to choose strength or vulnerability.”
A full copy of Senator Merkley’s plan can be found online here.