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February 01, 2006

On Reducing US Dependence On Middle East Oil Energy  Peak Oil  Politics

Bush has gotten a lot of press today for his SOTU vow to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by 75% by 2025. Except, the White House now hastens to add, he didn't really mean it. Knight-Ridder:

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

But America still would import oil from the Middle East, because that's where the greatest oil supplies are.

The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."

He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives. He acknowledged that oil is a freely traded commodity bought and sold globally by private firms. Consequently, it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

Presidential adviser Dan Bartlett made a similar point in a briefing before the speech. "I think one of the biggest concerns the American people have is oil coming from the Middle East. It is a very volatile region," he said. [Emphasis added]

So it was bull, and they knew it was bull, but they said it anyway because it was something "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands". How you "understand" something that's not true is left as an exercise for the reader.

On the other hand, oil geologist Byron King notes, a 75% reduction in US oil imports from the Middle East is really a prophesy, not a goal. It's going to happen, but not for the reasons Bush cited:

Replace 75% of US oil imports from the Mideast by 2025? Viewed in another way, this is not a "goal," it is a prophesy. There is no way that the US will be importing as much oil from the Mideast in 2025 as it imports today. And there is no way that the nations of the Mideast will be exporting as much oil in 2025 as they are exporting today.

Whether or not the Bush statement is a "goal," in 2025 the US will not be importing much in the way of petroleum from the Mideast, nor from anyplace else. The oil just will not be there for one side to export, nor for the other side to import. Welcome to the future. [Emphasis added]

Bush had nothing to say about coal other than a mention of "zero-emission coal-fired plants" — the idea here is to store carbon dioxide emissions below ground. No mention at all of natural gas, which is likely to become a critical problem even sooner than oil.

Posted by Jonathan at February 1, 2006 08:27 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

Clean coal what a joke. Read this Wall Street Journal Article, not the most left publication on earth. http://www.mindfully.org/Energy/Clean-Coal-Oxymoron-WSJ.htm. Note the graph. In 2000 oil only represented 3% of our electric generation with natural gas being 16%. So how does this have anything to do with cutting oil also considering that what the power companies are burning is the lower grades of oil used for heating. Face it we still have the traditional battle. Coal, Nuclear and Alternative Energy sources. They will just be fighting over oil and natural gases 20%. So most of the oil we use is used in transportation, plastics, and chemicals. You want to cut our oil usage. the only way is to restructure society and change our transportation systems.

Posted by: mark at February 2, 2006 04:43 PM