Weaning ourselves off of foreign oil

An article at The Atlantic recently pointed to the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the possibility that we are weaning ourselves off of foreign oil, if all goes according to plan.

The United States isn’t breaking its reliance on foreign oil any time in the near future, but over the next couple of decades, we will be importing much less oil for two simple reasons. We’re drilling more crude, and we’re driving more efficient cars.

In 2010, the United States imported 49% of its petroleum supplies. By 2035, the country will be importing just 36%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2012 Annual Energy Outlook.

However, even if the expected reduction were fully realized, we would still import more than one-third of the petroleum we use, despite 23 years of effort. We believe that this timeline can and should be accelerated by the adoption of policies that open the fuel market to competition from abundant domestic sources such as natural gas, methanol and ethanol. Existing policies that are predicted to reduce demand-side foreign oil dependence rely to a large degree on attrition, as less fuel-efficient vehicles are retired in favor of new ones. On the other hand, a truly free fuel market would promote conversion of the existing fleet to flex fuels, reducing gasoline consumption during the useful life of cars and trucks we drive today.

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