SAFE is committed to protecting American national and economic security by combating oil dependence.
In 2008, Americans consumed nearly 20 million barrels of oil a day—one-fourth of the world’s total. America imported 58 percent of the oil it consumed, leading to a U.S. trade deficit in crude oil and petroleum products that reached $388 billion—56 percent of the total trade deficit.
At the crux of America’s oil dependence is the energy demand of the transportation sector. Transportation accounted for almost 70 percent of American oil consumption in 2008. Cars and trucks were 94 percent reliant on oil-based fuel for their energy, with no substitutes immediately available in anything approaching sufficient quantities.
The volatility of oil prices affects every American. All told, U.S. families and businesses spent more than $900 billion on refined oil products in 2008, representing 6.4 percent of GDP. In 2008, when oil prices rose to $140 a barrel, the typical American family faced increases in annual household energy costs of $1,600. This burden, multiplied across millions of households, was a major contributor to the ensuing economic slowdown. The nation’s continued dependence on oil today threatens economic growth, weakens the dollar, and transfers untold billions of American dollars overseas every passing year.
The threat to American national security is equally as urgent. Oil dependence constrains U.S. foreign policy. Terrorists and rogue producing nations like Iran and Venezuela continue to threaten U.S. safety and prosperity with their "oil weapon." Too often, our dependence requires us to accommodate hostile governments that share neither our values nor our goals.
In addition, the vulnerability of global oil supply lines and infrastructure has driven the United States to accept the burden of securing the world’s oil supply. Whether the U.S. military is policing the waters of the Gulf of Guinea or ensuring safe passage for tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, America’s men and women in uniform are on the front lines of a steadily intensifying global resource conflict that strains the nation’s military forces and ultimately weakens national security.
A national energy policy must pursue the long-term vision of a post-oil transportation sector. Support for so vast a reform effort will be forthcoming only if national political leaders embrace it as a dominant policy theme to address the unique and immediate threats posed by the nation’s dependence on oil.