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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Do we in the US really want to be independent of foreign oil, or is that just one of the ubiquitous talking points politicians always use?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21138 points ) October 26th, 2011

Politicians always seem to talk, talk, and talk more about getting off foreign oil, and cutting back on the use of oil all together. They never make a wholehearted effort to do so. If the government put as much effort into it as they did for the Apollo program to reach the moon, do you think we would not have a viable, affordable, working electric car by 2013? The feet dragging, finger pointing, and all but sandbagging approach the government seem to use suggest they don’t really care to be free of foreign oil. Are they saying so because they are trying to bamboozle and bull shit the people, so they can stay in office, or get a higher one?

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14 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

We want to be independent of foreign oil except what’s imported by Chevron, Exxon, and BP. They’re the one’s that resist any moves to true energy independence.

wonderingwhy's avatar

As a politician I don’t know. Check to see how much oil company stock, leases, futures, and interests their families and businesses hold. Then check to see how their states are benefiting (or hurting) in terms of jobs, contracts, and revenue from the energy status quo. Then check their polling numbers, if the issue isn’t hurting them (one way or another) don’t expect much action.

As a voter however, I’m of a mindset that we should be focused on, 1) efficiency – from turbine to townhome as it were, 2) renewability and sustainability, 3) becoming a net exporter of energy.

So do we want to be independent of foreign oil? Guess it depends on who you ask and what their motives are. But to my way of thinking, the more sustainable energy we responsibly produce and the more efficiently we use it, the greater the benefit to the world will be.

marinelife's avatar

If we did, we would put a lot more money into alternative fuels and other automotive research.

lonelydragon's avatar

Many politicians receive campaign donations from oil lobbying organizations. They’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.

wundayatta's avatar

I always thought it made more sense to use up all their oil before we used up ours.

As a strategic thing, I think the chances of getting into a worldwide war that would cut us off from a significant portion of the oil we need is highly unlikely.

Jaxk's avatar

You have conflicting ideas here. Everyone would like to get to energy independence but the approaches differ. One approach would be to eliminate the use of oil. The other approach would be to supply our own. There are problems with either approach. But the old argument that if we can put a man on the moon we can invent new energy, is unrealistic.

We use about 70% of our oil for transportation and about 30% for industrial purposes (asphalt, plastics, etc.). Of that about ¾ is personal use vehicles (cars and trucks) and about ¼ is commercial (planes, trains and trucks). We import about ⅔ of our oil and produce domestically about ⅓. Most of our trade deficit is oil (about $250 billion annually but very dependent on the price of oil). We simply don’t produce enough oil to supply our own use even if there were no cars.

We have vast oil reserves in the US that are as yet untapped. Estimates range up to 400 years at our current rate of consumption. Areas such as oil shale in Colorado, ANWAR, off shore, and places like N.Dakota. Our efforts to get off oil should be independent of our efforts to produce our own oil. We don’t have to cripple our economy to become energy independent.

Electric cars are all the rage right now but they simply won’t replace the gas driven engine. Battery technology has been advancing but has major restrictions. The charging cycle is too long to be practical for any long trip and even as a daily commuter, forgetting to plug in the car, means you don’t go to work that day. Battery technology has and will continue to advance with or without the auto industry. There’s simply too much demand for battery operated electronics, tools, and appliances. The idea that the auto industry or the oil industry is delaying advance, doesn’t pass the laugh test.

I doubt that electric cars will ever be the solution. Hybrids however may have a good role as a bridge to the future. There are simply too many options that are viable for transportation. Nuclear, whether fission or fusion, bio fuels, hell, even carbon recapture has the potential to extend our fuels and clean up the environment. We have a lot of options and we have plenty of time. Let’s let the right solution evolve before we panic and push some hair-brained solution that doesn’t work.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@lonelydragon Many politicians receive campaign donations from oil lobbying organizations. They’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them. Which is why I say, if we Yankees really had a spine we would usher in real campaign reform. Cut out the lobbyist, and special interest. Campaign spending should be capped at every level, be it state controller, lt. governor, governor, assemblymen, senator, congressmen, all the way to the President. You have X amount of money to spend at each level, AND THAT IS IT. No soft-money, etc. Your party can raise as much as they please, they just can’t attach it to any candidate. They have a set amount of cash, how they divvy it up is up to them. If they want to spend it on attack ads over news spots, so be it, but when the money is gone, IT IS GONE. It won’t matter if the oil companies want to give, they can’t increase the war chest of the candidate any more than the grassroots movement from the ghetto.

@Jaxk We simply don’t produce enough oil to supply our own use even if there were no cars. Then we need to reduce the use of things that require oil. Maybe if we have 400yrs worth of domestic oil we have not tapped into, we need to start. I am sure those smart brains in M.I.T. will figure a better way before the oil runs out.

Electric cars are all the rage right now but they simply won’t replace the gas driven engine. Battery technology has been advancing but has major restrictions. The charging cycle is too long to be practical for any long trip and even as a daily commuter, forgetting to plug in the car, means you don’t go to work that day. If you forget gas, you don’t go to work either. The battery thing is big to the unimagined. I am sure those smart boys in M.I.T. could get together with the auto industry and develop a battery system that can be swapped out of a vehicle and be replaced with one off a charger. It might not be as easy as changing the battery in your smoke detector, but it is not impossible.

Maybe hybrid bio fuel/electric car, it will burn cleaner, and not need petro fuel. If better solar cells can be created, and used on the roof, hood, and trunk, you can have less strain on the batteries increasing the use cycle. It is not impossible, if one really wanted to do it.

Jaxk's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

If you forget to gas up it is merely a 5 minute stop to fill up as opposed to 4+ hours to charge your electric car. That’s my issue with electric. Swapping batteries may be an option at some point but not realistic at this point. Hell they are researching solar paint for cars so the whole thing is a solar panel. It’s just not ready for prime time and less productive at night. Most of what we’re banking on is evolutionary change. That takes time. I’m still hoping for a revolutionary change, maybe fusion.

And we haven’t even touched on the logistics for electric cars. What do you suppose will happen if everyone in the country plugs in thier car at the same time (~5:30) when they get home from work. Our grid won’t support it. Not to mention that half our electricity is generated from coal which the EPA is trying to outlaw. Then once we have spent trillions swapping our cars, trucks (I’m still skeptical of a windmill powered jetliner), upgrading the grid, distributing charging stations, distributing battery swapping stations, etc., we come up with the real solution (fusion, ethanol from algae, etc.) and have to do it all again. Let’s get a real solution and then convert. We have the time, let’s use it.

mrrich724's avatar

I think this is an interesting article that has a few good talking points related to your question!

Jaxk's avatar

@mrrich724

Good article. I think it is a little overly optimistic but in this environment who’s going to complain about a little optimism?

HungryGuy's avatar

Most people want to be independent of foreign oil, but the petrochemical companies who own the politicians don’t. So the politicians tell the people what they want to hear, but vote whatever is in the best interest of the petrochemical companies.

mrrich724's avatar

@HungryGuy is correct, and I don’t think it’s a big secret.

They’re making shit loads of money the way it is, and eventually they will get into alternative energy, but not until they can dominate it the way they dominate the current situation. Until then, they will lobby against it.

@Jaxk You are right, it is overly optimistic, but like you said, no one’s complaining, especially nowadays, LOL Sometimes I think the media’s pessimism helps (if only a little) in perpetuating the bad situation.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@mrrich724 A lot of talking points, and even more dreaming in that article. I don’t think China is the de facto cheapest place now. A lot of cheap stuff is made in Brazil, Vietnam, India, and Korea. I am sure at some point if those areas get too expensive, Africa will be attractive enough to go back and pillage, and exploit once again.

@HungryGuy That is why we need robust campaign reform so big oil can’t buy politicians with huge contributions.

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