The President took a moment in the State of the Union to do a little intervention and inform us, we are addicted to oil. We are getting the oil to feed our addiction in a bad neighborhood, the unstable Middle East. Bush has set a goal of reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil by seventy-five percent. Reducing our consumption of Middle Eastern oil by seventy-five percent translates into an overall reduction of 8.25% of our total oil consumption. One of the major dealers of the oil that feeds our addiction was quick to tell us that we could not meet this goal. Exxon Mobil Senior Vice President Steve McGill said that the United States will always rely on foreign imports of oil to feed its energy needs and should stop trying to become energy independent, “It’s simply not feasible.”
Sweden has already recognized its addiction to oil and as already begun a recovery plan to break that addiction. The Royal Academy of Sciences is concerned that global oil supplies are peaking and will soon dwindle and that a global economic recession will result in high oil prices. In 1970, seventy-seven percent of Sweden’s energy consumption was from oil. Today it is down to thirty two percent. Twenty six percent of its oil consumption today comes from renewable sources. The Minister of Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin, says that Sweden’s dependence on oil should be broken by 2020.
In December 2005, Sweden appointed the Commission on Oil Independence. The commission is to prepare Sweden for a life without dependency on oil by knowledge, technology and economic means. The commission has developed four interacting strategies. First, “More resource-efficient technology combined with more sensible use of technology”. For example, “fuel efficient cars and eco-driving, properly adjusted heating boilers, and less time spent in the shower”. Second, “fuel conversion, from oil and fossil fuels, to renewable non-fossil fuels”. For example, “Ethanol and bio-gas instead of petrol, pellets instead of heating oil.” Third, Infrastructure development. For example, public transportation, urban planning and system choice in energy policy such as the retention of nuclear power and the increased use of natural gas. Fourth, change in behavior. For example, better and more careful use of the family car, “more effective flow in haulers’ handling of goods, energy awareness in the consumption of food and electricity.” These strategies should enable Sweden to meet its goal of oil independence.
The Bush administration has not been environmentally friendly in the past. The energy policies of the Bush administration have consistently benefited the giant oil, coal and nuclear industries and have not benefited the environment and the American consumer. We will have to wait to see if Bush actually funds an energy program that results in a safer world less dependant on foreign oil, which is friendly to the environment and the consumer. Will he really free the United States from its addiction to oil?