Slowly Moving Towards Energy Security

Rishi Khalsa

Just last month President Obama announced a new agreement with automakers to improve upon fuel-economy standards for 2017-25 model cars and light-trucks, but there is a long bumpy road to traverse before Americans will be able to breathe comfortably about energy concerns.

The move towards energy efficient automobiles is part of a larger White House strategy to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil with the transportation sector consuming the most by far.

While the goal is laudable and politically supportable by both sides of the aisle, it is unlikely that this president will be able to achieve significantly more than those who have attempted the same in the past.

From President Nixon to George W. Bush, every single president has left the job half completed at best. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States imported 11.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and petroleum products out of the 19.1 million barrels per day consumed in 2010.

In other words, the United States imported 61.78 percent of the petroleum products it consumed in 2010, making it quite obvious that we are very far from reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Unless significant changes are made to our energy infrastructure as well as highways and roads, President Obama will have a difficult time reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

While the Bay Area is one of the largest alternative fuel centers in the country, it still lacks the type of alternative energy infrastructure that major gasoline companies maintain. The U.S. Department of Energy only lists one electric, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and liquid petroleum gas refueling station in Hayward. Clearly, this is insufficient to operate at the levels needed to address a potential switchover to alternative fuels without appropriate sources of distribution to the public.

Improved highways and roads could also potentially increase fuel efficiency by making it easier to maintain speeds rather than facing drag from ragged roadways.

With concerns over the economy and ballooning debt, it seems improbable that needed infrastructure changes will garner the support necessary to effectively position the United States towards substantial changes in oil dependence.

Improved infrastructure for alternative fuels may be only one area in which energy security can be quickly addressed, but it is a sector that can see substantial changes in current energy consumption.

In order to develop the infrastructure needed, the government should work even closer with the automobile industry to develop alternatively fueled cars and light-trucks, and create greater subsidies for alternative fuels that could potentially generate job growth in the United States.

President Obama setting new energy efficiency goals for regular automobiles is a step in the right direction to energy securitization in the United States, but it is not enough.

It makes no sense for Americans to be continually subjected to the volatility of the oil industry because of conflict abroad. It becomes increasingly more difficult to budget driving to school or rising food prices as transportation costs rise.

While current gasoline prices may seem pleasant in comparison to the recent past, they are still historically high.

Unless Obama, literally, fixes the bumps in our roads and lack of distribution centers for alternative fuels, the United States will move altogether too slowly towards energy security.