SAFE: Report’s ‘flash points’ emphasize US transportation fuel problem

A proliferation of global oil geopolitical “flash points” makes it even more urgent for the US to aggressively reduce its dependence on crude oil for transportation fuels, according to speakers discussing a report issued by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE).

The report, “Oil Security 2025: US National Security Policy in an Era of Domestic Oil Abundance,” identified key fundamental trends and conditions that potentially could trigger instability in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, and China.

For example, it said Russia’s heavy economic reliance on its oil and gas revenue could either lead its government to pursue more assertive and destabilizing policies in response to global price trajectories, or reform its largely state-run energy sector to attract more outside investment for developing its vast resources in areas now considered inaccessible.

A transportation sector using multiple, diverse energy sources would let the US better protect itself from an often volatile global crude oil market while freeing the nation’s foreign policy from reliance on a resource with important US national and economic security implications, speakers said during a July 16 luncheon cosponsored by SAFE and The Foreign Policy Initiative.

“If we could be only 65% dependent on oil for our transportation fuels by 2025 instead of 90%, it would make a tremendous difference,” said John Hannah, a former national security advisor to US Vice-President Richard B. Cheney and member of SAFE’s Commission on Energy and Geopolitics. “It won’t be sufficient to simply believe we can drill our way out of this.”

“Get $7/gal gasoline, and the whole nation would be engaged,” added another member of the commission, Retired US Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011. “Otherwise, people have to be led. We need to move forward expeditiously, but we also can’t run to the extremes. Reports like this can’t be left on the shelf.”

The US potentially could work more closely with China because “we’re both going to be tied to consumption, so there’s a tremendous opportunity to work together,” Mullen said. “It also would be a good way for our two countries to improve their relationship.”

Hannah said, “We also need better politics developed by people who can find win-win situations so we can move forward. We all agree that we need to diversify our transportation sources away from oil.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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