Senators Offer Measure to Free America from Overseas Oil

Washington, D.C. – Just days before Independence Day, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Carper (DE), Tom Udall (NM), and Michael Bennet (CO) introduced legislation to eliminate our dependence on overseas oil, strengthen national security, and create jobs.  

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act of 2011 will set into law the goal of achieving independence from overseas oil in the next 20 years and provides a specific plan for achieving it.  By committing America to developing a robust clean energy economy, the legislation would create new jobs while eliminating the national security vulnerability posed by dependence on oil from overseas. 

“As we celebrate our nation’s independence, our economic fate is firmly in the hands of others: dictators in oil-rich countries, Wall Street speculators, and oil company executives all of whom influence how much we pay at the pump every day,” said Merkley.  “We can continue to send a billion dollars a day overseas and be at the mercy of gas price spikes, or we can invest that money right here at home creating red, white, and blue American jobs.  It is time to declare our independence from overseas oil.”

“I am proud to join Senators Merkley, Bennet and Tom Udall in introducing this much needed legislation that sets an ambitious, but attainable, goal of eliminating all oil imports from outside of North America by 2030,” said Sen. Carper. “This bill provides a comprehensive strategy to reduce our unhealthy oil consumption by improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of clean, renewable energy sources. The legislation also takes important steps forward to increase vehicle efficiency standards and provide Americans with a practical alternative to using their cars, trucks, and vans for every trip.  This will save families money at the pump and reduce traffic congestion as well as harmful air pollution.”

 “Enacting this bill would help America take control of its energy future by ending our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, which puts our economic, environmental and national security at risk,” Udall said.  “Global oil supplies are struggling to keep up with demand, so combining a suite of solutions including fuel efficiency, advanced biofuels and natural gas vehicles is both a national security and economic necessity.”

“In all of my town halls across Colorado, one thing everyone can agree on is the need to break our dependence on overseas oil,” said Bennet. “By committing America to developing a robust clean energy economy, the bill would create jobs while eliminating the national security and economic vulnerability posed by dependence on overseas oil. We have outlined a plan to break our dependence on overseas oil in a way that promotes Colorado’s energy sources and creates Colorado jobs.”

 “The veterans of Operation Free are proud to stand with Senators Merkley, Carper, Udall, and Bennet in the fight for American energy independence,” said Michael Breen, Vice President of the Truman National Security Project.  “In Iraq and Afghanistan, we saw firsthand that America’s addiction to oil costs dollars and lives.  In Afghanistan, a single gallon of gasoline costs the American taxpayer $400, but that doesn’t even begin to measure the price – one in every 24 fuel convoys ends in an American casualty.  Meanwhile, our most dangerous enemies continue to be funded by oil money.  It’s time to stop putting oil dollars into the hands of extremists, and to start investing in a clean energy economy here at home.  The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act is the right choice for our security.”

To eliminate the nation’s reliance on foreign imports from non-North American countries in 20 years, the bill includes steps to ramp up deployment of electric vehicles, increase travel options and improve infrastructure, make gasoline engines more efficient, develop alternative transportation fuels and reduce the use of oil to heat buildings.   

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act also would create a National Council on Energy Security to ensure a sustained focus on reducing the use of oil.  The Council, housed in the White House, would be charged with making recommendations to the President and Congress to ensure America has a focused strategic plan for energy independence and with aligning the actions of various federal agencies.

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 overseas oil costs our nation a billion dollars per day that could be used here at home.  Instead, the United States could be investing in home-grown American clean energy and reduce pollution in our air and water.

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act would reduce oil consumption in the U.S. by over 8 million barrels per day in 20 years, enough to end the need for oil imports from beyond North America.  The plan, which relies on existing technologies and proven strategies, was recently rated the most effective roadmap of the last 5 years to reducing oil consumption by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Reducing oil consumption is the only way to break America’s national security and economic vulnerability to hostile countries and groups, geopolitical instability, and natural disasters posed by overseas oil.  Increasing domestic drilling will not solve the problem, since the United States only has 3 percent of oil reserves, yet uses 25 percent of all oil.  The Department of Energy has estimated that opening up offshore drilling on both coasts would only lower the price of gasoline by three cents per gallon in twenty years.  Moreover, domestic drilling is not without risks, as last year’s BP oil well catastrophe has shown.

The Oil Independence for a Stronger America Act will put into law the plan for American oil independence Senator Merkley laid out in June 2010.  Details of the plan can be found here: