There are many "hidden costs" that are associated with fossil fuels. However, our slavish dependence on oil for gasoline creates, many would contend, unacceptably high risks for American foreign policy. So the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations conducted a hearing on March 30, 2006 to consider what those risks are and what "price" we pay for them.
A previous article of this blog deals with The Military Surcharge for Oil. The hearing dealt more specifically with:
Below are excerpts from the opening statement by Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana).
The Hidden Cost of Oil
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Chairman Richard G. Lugar
March 30, 2006
With less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States consumes 25 percent of its oil. If oil prices remain around $60 a barrel through 2006, we will spend approximately $320 billion on oil imports this year. Most of the world’s oil is concentrated in places that are either hostile to American interests or vulnerable to political upheaval and terrorism. More than three-quarters of the world’s oil reserves are controlled by national oil companies. And within 25 years, the world will need 50 percent more energy than it does now.
These basic facts demand a major reorientation in U.S. policy aimed at reducing U.S. dependence onfossil fuels. Our goals must be to mitigate the short term costs of our dependence on oil, while pursuing energy alternatives that would reduce the international leverage of petro-superpowers, improve environmental quality, cushion potential oil price shocks, stimulate new high-tech energy industries, and ground the American economy on energy sources that will neither run out nor be cut off by a foreign supplier.
There are at least six basic threats associated with our dependence on fossil fuels.
Each of these threats comes with short and long term costs. As a result, the price of oil dependence for the United States is far greater than the price consumers pay at the pump. Some costs, particularly those affecting the environment and public health, are attributable to oil no matter its source. Others, such as the costs of military resources dedicated to preserving oil supplies, stem from our dependence on oil imports. But each dollar we spend on securing oil fields, borrowing money to pay for oil imports, or cleaning up an oil spill is an opportunity missed to invest in a sustainable energy future.
technorati bioenergy, greenhouse, military, legislation, ethanol, pollution