There are a lot of reasons why I’m not a big fan of America’s reliance on oil. It’s definitely not the safest, healthiest, or cleanest way to power our cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation.
It’s also not very affordable.
It’s such a drag on our economy that you can put a price on it. Every day, the United States sends nearly $1 billion to foreign countries to pay for oil. Yes, every day – as in $365 billion each year. Even if you hung me upside down, blindfolded me, and played Kenny G at full volume to distract me, I think I could still come up with better uses for that money in less than 30 seconds.
To start, we could invest in new clean energy development here in the United States, which would put people to work, clean up our air, and make us more energy independent. We could also build a 21st century transportation system, complete with high-speed rail, better roads and bridges, fuel-efficient vehicles, modern airports, and more convenient travel. We could also modernize our schools to give our kids a better education – spurring innovation and helping them compete in a global economy.
If that all sounds too practical, we could just go ahead and buy everyone in the country a pair of those crazy toe shoes. Even that would probably be a better use of our money than spending it on foreign oil.
The reality is that our reliance on oil puts our economy, environment, and national security at risk. The good news is that we don’t have to be shackled to that reality. We can break out of our oil dependence through smart policies and investments in better technology. That will chart a path towards a clean energy economy that doesn’t rely on dirty and dangerous sources of energy.
Here at the Union of Concerned Scientists, we have laid out a plan to do just that. Our plan would dramatically cut America’s oil dependence through cleaner vehicles, better fuels, and expanded transportation choices. Putting these solutions in place would put money back into the U.S. economy, clean up our air, and provide better energy security.
So if you had a billion dollars a day to spend making America safer, healthier, and more prosperous, how would you spend it?