Securing America's Future Energy

U.S. Oil Dependence Compels American Action in the Middle East

Alex Adams | 202.461.2374 |

Washington, D.C.—In response to reports that the United States is preparing to send 500 troops to Saudi Arabia and planning oil tanker escorts amid Iranian attempts to disrupt shipping around the Strait of Hormuz, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) President and CEO Robbie Diamond made the following statement:

“The U.S. military is once again being sucked into the quagmire of instability in the Middle East due to the overwhelming reliance on oil to power our cars, trucks, and planes. Our oil dependence problem requires long-term, demand-side solutions such as modernized fuel economy standards and greater fuel choice. Transitioning our vehicle fleet away from petroleum to stable, domestically-produced energy sources like electricity will insulate our economy from oil price volatility, ultimately enhance our energy security and preclude our having to protect it with American blood and treasure.”

Oil is the lifeblood of the American economy. The U.S transportation system is 92 percent dependent on oil, a volatile commodity prone to spikes in price, with no alternatives currently available at scale. Oil prices are affected by a diverse array of factors, including the actions of the OPEC cartel and geopolitical risk, and its globally-priced nature means that a disruption anywhere in the world has the potential to affect prices in the United States.

To minimize the effects of global oil price volatility on the U.S. economy, SAFE research found the Pentagon spends at least $81 billion every year to secure the global oil supply—a sum that represents approximately 16 percent of recent Department of Defense base budgets. Spread out over the 19.8 million barrels of oil consumed daily in the U.S. in 2017, the implicit subsidy for all petroleum consumers is approximately $11.25 per barrel of crude oil, or $0.28 per gallon.

Military leaders believe these funds could be better spent on more pressing military matters, such as hypersonic weapons and cybersecurity, and reducing oil use in the transportation sector allows for the possibility of shifting U.S. military priorities toward more critical strategic threats. “If we reduced our oil consumption by half, we would act differently,” Energy Security Leadership Council member Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, stated in SAFE’s research.


About Securing America’s Future Energy

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.



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