There are certain terms that are so often repeated that the words begin to lose meaning. A phrase we often hear that is perhaps losing its significance is “dependence on foreign oil.” For this phrase to fall upon deaf ears through its repetition would be a mistake, as it carries real world ramifications. Importing oil is costing the United States economy approximately $192 billion annually. Additionally, the continued use of foreign oil harms the trade deficit and is detrimental to the long-term growth of the economy.
Simply put, gasoline is the source that powers the United States. Last year approximately 136 billion gallons of gasoline were used by Americans and roughly 1/3rd of that gasoline was imported. While progress has been made in the effort to wean the United States off of foreign oil, there continues to be much work to be done. The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that the United States will continue to depend on foreign oil for “25% to 32% of our petroleum needs in the future.”
A beautifully simple and logical solution to eradicating the national addiction to imported gasoline is to reduce fuel consumption. Improved fuel economy has helped to lessen the amount of foreign oil pouring into the United States, yet as the average MPG of the American fleet is a meager 17.6 MPG, there is a sizable amount of room for improvement.
A key factor in reducing fuel consumption will be improved fuel economy averages through the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for new vehicles. By 2025, the goal is to achieve about 45 MPG per new vehicle, which will benefit both individual consumers and the national economy. If the goal is reached, it will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs and “reduce our dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day in 2025.”
The benefits to reduced foreign fuel consumption go further than pure economics, as there are clear environmental benefits as well. The national fuel economy average is sure to improve over the next decade, but there needs to be a conscientious effort to reduce fuel consumption today and not make it merely a goal for the future. According to the Department of Energy, the solution to reducing foreign oil dependence is by “developing advanced vehicle technologies that use energy more efficiently.” The issue is pressing and the solution is within our grasp. We can end the national addiction to foreign oil by driving more fuel-efficient vehicles.