Why the U.S. can’t eliminate oil and what you can do about it
Issues surrounding oil seem to be a hot topic in politics. Environmentalists take issues with how oil is extracted, transported, and consumption. Despite arguments against oil consumption in America, and the advocacy for various alternatives, we can’t easily replace all oil consumption with natural resources. Environmental advocacy groups and those against the use of fossil fuels promote that the we should stop using oil and switch entirely to more renewable sources of energy. Unfortunately, however well intended the halt in oil use in the United States may be, it’s simply not plausible.
Oil is a vital and necessary component to many aspects of the American economy and day to day life. Oil consumption can be monitored and reduced, oil is used in residential, commercial, industrial, electric utility and transportation sectors. There is no way to remove this oil supply, not only is it not currently possible to make up for the loss of such a large energy supply, but the U.S. economy would collapse.
I became interested in the United States oil consumption after doing extensive research on the Alaskan pipeline. The construction of the pipeline was under heavy stipulation from environmentalists and had to meet many environmental regulations. It took years and millions of dollars to build, but many were insistent that it was necessary. The amount of oil that the Alaskan pipeline alone has transported since its completion in 1975 and the controversy over additional pipelines since then made me inquisitive in America’s oil consumption and our growing need.
In the last 42 years, the Alaskan pipeline has transported over 17 billion barrels of oil (Griffith). In addition to this, the United states imports approximately 9.4 million barrels of petroleum per day. In 2016, we consumed a total of 7.19 billion barrels of petroleum products, or an average of about 19.63 million barrels per day.
Plans to cut oil consumption in the United States include the use of electric vehicles, biofuels, and switching to alternative energy sources such as hydropower, wind power, or solar power. Despite government kickbacks and tax incentives, only about 10% of energy consumed in the United States in 2015 was from renewable sources.
That number continues to grow slowly. As nice as cutting out oil sounds, it’s simply not feasible. While there are ways to reduce our oil consumption and continue to expand our use of alternative energy sources, eliminating oil entirely is just not possible.
Eliminating oil in the United States would have a huge economic impact. Even if it was possible, it is highly unlikely because of the power and influence of large oil companies. Oil accounts for over 2.5% of the world's GDP. In 2015, the United States spent $991 million on petroleum consumption per day, which was the lowest it had been in seven years.
There is no doubt that the united states oil usage takes a toll on our environment. Unfortunately, cutting out oil is just not an option.
The U.S. might not be able to cut out oil, or even seem to care about Americas massive amount of oil consumption, but there are still things we can do to reduce our consumption. Reducing your personal oil consumption might not save the planet, but it can still make a difference.
As I said before, oil is used in basically everything. So the solution- use less stuff.
Drive effectively. Not everyone can buy a more fuel efficient, eco friendly car. You can try to reduce your milage though. Plan ahead so you only have to go grocery shopping once a week, run errands while you are already out, and carpool, walk, or bike when you can.
Buy local. It seems so simple, but it can make a big difference. Locally produced goods require less transportation and as an added bonus you are also supporting your local community.
Try to limit your use of plastic and overall consumption. Buy items that are reusable and buy used items when possible. This helps reduce oil consumption as well as waste.
Just because we can’t eliminate the use of oil does not mean you can't do your part to help reduce oil consumption!