The recommendations contained within A National Strategy for Energy Security — Recommendations to the Nation on Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence are designed to counter an increasingly inescapable reality: Oil dependence poses a grave threat to America’s national security and economic strength.
The Energy Security Leadership Council believes that America’s energy security can be fundamentally improved through major reductions in oil demand and increases in domestic energy production. Above all, we must transform our transportation sector so that oil is no longer its primary fuel. The Council’s recommendations reflect the realities of global energy interdependence as well as the promise of American ingenuity. Taken as a whole, our proposals constitute a comprehensive and integrated plan for achieving a safer energy future for America. Our mission is to secure the support of a bipartisan coalition that has the vision to identify—and the courage to sustain—difficult choices.
The United States imports approximately 60 percent of its oil, most of which is produced by hostile and/or unstable nations. The transportation sector accounts for 70 percent of the total oil consumed by the United States; oil fuels 96 percent of U.S. transportation needs with no readily available substitutes.
Simply put, energy security cannot be improved without addressing oil dependence, and oil dependence cannot be meaningfully reduced without addressing transportation.
The Council’s agenda for improved energy security will be realized over many decades. In the short and medium term, the United States must reduce the oil intensity of its economy and increase access to secure supplies of oil and natural gas. Together, these measures will strengthen our trade balance and maintain the competitiveness of our economy. Over the long term, the United States must strive toward a post-oil transportation sector. With the mass adoption of electric vehicles that can draw their power from a wide variety of domestic energy resources, Americans will be in a position to end the scourge of oil dependence.
The Council pursues this goal mindful of two other important objectives: preserving robust economic growth and limiting undesirable environmental consequences, particularly those related to climate change. However, to be clear, we believe that any significant shifts in energy policy—including those related to climate-change mitigation—must be crafted so as to enhance rather than imperil our energy security.
In December 2006, the Council issued its inaugural report, Recommendations to the Nation on Reducing U.S. Oil Dependence. Improved and strengthened vehicle fuel-economy standards were a core element of that comprehensive plan. A year later, in December 2007, Congress and President George W. Bush joined together to enact significant increases in fuel-economy standards for the first time in a generation. This laudable achievement suggests the opportunity for future progress in the energy debate, though formidable political obstacles remain.
The dangers of U.S. oil dependence can only be managed through a serious and sustained national effort. Moreover, meaningful energy security policies sometimes carry difficult and unavoidable trade-offs. For these reasons, it is essential that members of both political parties commit themselves to principled compromise. Whatever the merits of the respective Democratic and Republican energy policy programs, systemic reform over decades will not be possible without a durable, and therefore bipartisan, commitment.
We urge policymakers and the American people to pursue the task of improving energy security as a mission of the greatest national importance. The dangers are great, and time is not on our side.