Obama’s Energy Security Speech Misses the Mark

American oil production will never get close to its 1970s peak. The only viable way to reduce dependence on "foreign oil" is to reduce dependence on all oil.

Yesterday, President Obama unveiled his “Blueprint for Energy Security,” the highlight of which was a plan to cut oil imports by one-third over the coming decade.

In the plan’s introduction, the President hit all the right notes with characteristic flair. “The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out,” he said. “Seventy percent of our petroleum consumption goes to transportation — 70 percent. And by the way, so does the second biggest chunk of most families’ budgets goes into transportation. “

Unfortunately, the full speech contained only the most cursory mention of expanding transit, dwelling far longer on the expansion of domestic oil and natural gas production, notes Tony Garcia at Network blog Transit Miami:

You would think that the ‘blueprint for energy security’ would involve seriously expanding the transit capacity of our cities (where most of the population lives), but that’s not the case. To say that the President’s plan is disappointing is an understatement. While paying lip service to all the typical rhetoric about our dependence on foreign oil, the President’s ‘blueprint’ for the future reads like an affirmation of the status quo   – not only does it lack vision, it ignores the fact that the challenges facing our energy future are transportation related.

If we are talking about seriously lowering dependence on foreign oil we should be lowering our dependence on all oil, foreign and domestic. Expanding US oil production is a cheap political game that does not have a chance at impacting our dependence on oil or the price of oil at the pump. Maybe our production is up since 2003, but as the graph [above] from the US Department of Energy shows, US production peaked in the mid-1970′s.

US production has no chance of offsetting our annual oil appetite. Not even close. Our daily oil consumption is 18 million barrels per day, while our proven reserves of crude oil amount to about 19 billion barrels - that’s enough oil for about 1,000 days or 2.7 years at current rates of consumption!  Considering the challenges associated with accessing the remaining domestic reserves, one has to question the benefits of draining every last drop of oil from US soil given how little is left. It simply is not worth the environmental cost. With these numbers – who is the president fooling?

Elsewhere on the Network today: I Bike TO looks at the results of a recent study of North America’s most bike friendly cities, which included high praise for Portland. And Wash Cycle reports injuries from bike-car collisions are on the rise in D.C. largely because of an overall increase in cycling.