Addicted to Oil

In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush said the unsayable: America is addicted to foreign oil, and we must wean ourselves from it. Coming from an oil man, it was a surprising admission. How serious Bush is remains to be seen. In his speech, the president failed to lay out the true scope of the problem, and offered only timid, unrealistic alternatives for ending a dependency that threatens the nation’s security as well as its economy and environment.

One assumes that Bush knows a good deal about oil. For example, he should know that the real culprit is not the Middle Eastern potentates he pointed to but America’s ever-expanding appetite for fossil fuels. Our love of large gas-guzzling cars, aversion to higher taxes, and resistance to environmental regulation fuel the escalating demand for oil.

The president should also know that not buying Arab oil is no solution. If we do not scale back consumption, we will only have to buy oil from someone else. And as long as the worldwide demand for oil, now at a thirty-year high, remains strong, the emirs will continue to line their pockets. As the world’s largest economy and its largest oil consumer, the United States uses one-quarter of total world output, nearly half of which goes to power our cars and trucks. There is little sign that will change unless dramatic action is taken. Two days after the president’s speech, the Wall Street Journal reported...

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