"Energy is the single most important problem facing humanity today — not just the U.S., but also worldwide." This quote is from Nobel Laureate, Dr. Richard Smalley. While energy is a problem worldwide, it is a huge problem for the United States. The United States of America makes up about five percent of the world's population, yet the country uses around twenty-six percent of the world's oil supply. Most of the oil is imported from other places. This causes both economic and security issues for our country. It would be extremely beneficial, in many ways, for our country to gain more energy independence.
The United States consumes massive amounts of oil daily and yearly. Seventy percent of all U.S. oil consumption is for transportation. Sixty-five percent of that is for personal vehicles. American drivers consume around nine million barrels of oil per day. Those nine million barrels are almost half of the twenty million barrels the United States uses daily. America imports nearly ten million barrels of crude oil every day and sixty percent of that comes from OPEC.
OPEC stands for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. This organization includes the countries of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, and Gabon. All countries are foreign and some we have even been, or are currently, at war with. America spends more than twenty-five billion dollars a year importing from the Persian Golf. Due to the United States' overwhelming need for foreign oil, there has been growth in the country's economic and political vulnerability.
With the amount of money that the United States spends on foreign energy, especially in the Middle East, it is hard not to think that at least some of that money is going towards dictators and groups that dislike our country. When America deals with these countries, we trade our wealth for their oil. This gives these angry dictators and groups more money. If the U.S. stopped trade with these countries, it would cut off a lot of money from eventually making it to possibly terroristic associations.
The United States has become a customer of OPEC and other oil companies in the Middle East and Africa. As an extremely large customer, the business would have a hard time trying to stop selling oil to America. If the United States, however, stopped buying the oil, it
could most likely cripple a business. The U.S. is a major revenue source of the oil industry and it would be a gigantic loss for the other companies. Without the money that the countries make from America, they would be reduced to very small importance.
Because the United States of America is so dependent on foreign nations for energy, it allows those nations to influence our economy. We buy massive amounts of oil per day, which we hope that money doesn't come back to hurt us in some way. But also, by depending on OPEC and other countries for energy, the United States allows them to determine how much the oil will cost. Barack Obama said that we must become independent because, "it puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation, and sets back our ability to compete." American Presidents, however, have been promising energy independence since Nixon promised to be independent by the end of the 1970s. Now, still, today, President Obama is coming up with a new plan.