America imported 4 million barrels of oil a day—or 1.5 billion barrels per year—from “dangerous or unstable” countries in 2008 at a cost of about $150 billion. CAP’s Rebecca Lefton and Daniel J. Weiss examine the implications of our growing energy insecurity in this repost.
A recent report on the November 2009 U.S. trade deficit found that rising oil imports widened our deficit, increasing the gap between our imports and exports. This is but one example that our economic recovery and long-term growth is inexorably linked to our reliance on foreign oil. The United States is spending approximately $1 billion a day overseas on oil instead of investing the funds at home, where our economy sorely needs it. Burning oil that exacerbates global warming also poses serious threats to our national security and the world’s security. For these reasons we need to kick the oil addiction by investing in clean-energy reform to reduce oil demand, while taking steps to curb global warming.
In 2008 the United States imported oil from 10 countries currently on the State Department’s Travel Warning List, which lists countries that have “long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.” These nations include Algeria, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Our reliance on oil from these countries could have serious implications for our national security, economy, and environment.
Oil imports fuel “dangerous or unstable” governments
The United States imported 4 million barrels of oil a day—or 1.5 billion barrels per year—from “dangerous or unstable” countries in 2008 at a cost of about $150 billion. This estimate excludes Venezuela, which is not on the State Department’s “dangerous or unstable” list but has maintained a distinctly anti-American foreign and energy policy. Venezuela is one of the top five oil exporters to the United States, and we imported 435 million barrels of oil from them in 2008.
There are a lot of reasons to move off of fossil fuels for environmental reasons. But some of the best are for national security and economic reasons.
First, unstable countries are likely to suffer political chaos, making oil shipments fragile. They distort our foreign policy (see Saudi arabia for example) as we have to often go against firmly held political beliefs in order to maintain the flow of fuel.
We send an awful lot of money to unstable countries that is sometimes then used to fund organizations that target the US. In many ways, we leave our economic and security futures in the hands of unstable governments.
Why in the world are we not trying to develop sources of energy that do not make us beholden to the interests of those who would wish us harm?