According to the United States Department of Energy, the United States of America consumes 20 million barrels (840 million gallons) of petroleum products each day. Almost half of this amount is used to fuel automobiles. Americans collectively use 200 million automobiles to travel 7 billion miles per day. Americans are responsible for one quarter of the world’s oil consumption, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says. Yet Americans make up only 4.5 percent of the world’s population.
And even more shocking, 25% of all auto trips in the United States are less than one mile. 40% are two miles or shorter.
What should President-elect Obama do upon taking office to prioritize energy sources in his administration policy?
Elected on Change Mandate, Obama Should Promote Change in American Energy Use
With statistics showing that Americans use far more than their fair share of the world’s energy resources, the Obama administration should seek balance by making a cornerstone of its energy policy the immediate minimization and ultimate elimination of reliance on any petroleum products.
The Obama administration should increase funding for public transportation and urban bicycle routes to promote substantial reduction in private automobile use particularly for short trips.
In fashioning a modern energy policy, the Obama administration should employ public relations tools to encourage Americans to walk a mile, in the same manner that the Carter administration encouraged Americans to walk up one or down two flights of stairs rather than using electric elevators.
Change Requires Risk-taking; Set Timetable to Eliminate Coal and Oil Dependence
The Institute for Analysis of Global Security projects that if oil use continues at the current rate, it will rise 60% by 2020. By 2025, automobile usage could double, with today’s 700 million vehicles exploding into 1.25 billion. By 2020, if energy consumption doesn’t change, the Middle East will control 83% of the world’s oil reserves. The IAGS concluded that such an international system is not sustainable and recommended that the United States “preemptively embark on a revolutionary change that will lead us away from oil dependency.”
The Obama administration should take heed of this advice and set a timetable for the United States to eliminate its dependence on coal and oil. Every energy expenditure and policy set in motion in the interim period should be weighed against the ultimate goal of eliminating coal and oil dependence.
Former vice president and now environmentalist Al Gore, working with the Alliance for Climate Protection, has recommended that the USA adopt a 10-year timetable for reducing carbon emissions from electricity production to zero. President Obama should embrace this challenge.
Substitute Clean, Renewable Energy Sources for Coal and Oil
In committing to a change to clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power, the Obama administration must require that all new businesses use renewable energy sources while providing tax incentives for existing businesses to make the switch. This requirement should be put in place immediately.
Retrain Coal and Oil Workers in Clean Energy Production Methods
Using tax incentives to encourage the strategic location of clean energy production facilities in the same locales where coal and oil industry workers now toil is one step the Obama administration should take to maximize the opportunities of coal and oil industry workers to obtain new jobs. The Obama administration should adopt a policy of retraining oil and coal industry workers to ensure they are qualified to take on clean energy production jobs and should ask the clean energy producers to voluntarily give these skilled workers priority in hiring.
By taking these steps, the Obama administration can fulfill its promise of change and guide the USA not only to energy independence, but environmentally sound energy practices.
Sources: http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/fensec.asp; http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/brochure/gas06/gasoline.htm; http://www.transcoalition.org/c/bikeped/bike_facts.pdf; http://www.iags.org/futureofoil.html; http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/887093/al_gore_reduce_carbon_emissions_electricity.html?cat=62; http://www.wecansolveit.org/content/solution/clean_energy_economy/.