America’s unhealthy dependence on foreign oil has been a political talking point for decades. Despite all this rhetoric, approximately 60 percent of all the petroleum America consumes is imported from foreign countries. Can either John McCain or Barack Obama succeed where decades of Presidents have failed, or are their plans utterly unrealistic?
Petroleum only accounts for two percent of the total electricity generation in America, yet both Sen. McCain’s and Sen. Obama’s plans to curb foreign petroleum imports rely heavily on decreasing the electricity generated from petroleum sources (via solar, wind, clean coal, or nuclear technologies). Both Senators believe that America can cut its petroleum imports 25 percent by 2018.
Even if we could shut down these facilities and replace them with alternatives, it would only reduce our dependence by a small percentage at a cost of billions of dollars. On the consumer side, both Senators believe that offering tax credits for alternative energy vehicles (flex fuel vehicles or hybrids) and increasing fuel economy standards will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. These policies will undoubtedly help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but unless every American decides to buy one of these alternative energy vehicles, the reduction will be nowhere near the 25 (or even 10) percent decrease that the Senators would like to see.
These two goals amount to the entirety of Sen. Obama’s plan and almost all of Sen. McCain’s plan. Sen. McCain’s final method of reducing our dependence on foreign oil is the only viable one: increasing domestic drilling.
Despite Sen. Obama’s belief that “we can’t drill our way out of [our dependence] problem,” the fact is we can. He claims that we use 25 percent of the world’s oil but only have four percent of the world’s oil deposits. But, if his (and Sen. McCain’s) goal is to reduce our oil imports by 25 percent, then we only need 3.75 percent of the world’s oil to accomplish this, well under the amount Sen. Obama claims we currently have.
Sen. Obama also claims that it will take ten years to reap the benefits of increased drilling. Ten years is exactly the timetable both Senators believe that a drastic reduction in foreign oil imports can take place. Given the quantitative data on the matter, the only viable solution to accomplishing the Senators’ goal of a 25 percent reduction in foreign oil imports by 2018 is increased domestic drilling in combination with consumer and electrical consumption reductions. This is John McCain’s plan.