February 16, 2011

Lugar Warns Obama Administration is Making America Vulnerable

Calls for Approval of New Canadian Pipeline, and New Drilling

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar warned that the Obama Administration is making the United States more vulnerable to oil shortages. In a speech today to the Alliance to Save Energy, Lugar called on the Obama Administration to lift the current off shore drilling ban, and to license the construction of a new Canadian oil pipeline from Alberta.

“We must reduce the security and economic vulnerabilities inherent in our over-dependence on foreign oil,” said Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “In the first week of February, Americans consumed more than 19 million barrels of petroleum fuels per day.  Nearly 12 million of those barrels derived from imported oil.  The largest global oil reserves are in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Libya, and Nigeria.  Though we have good relationships with some of these nations, none of them are fully functioning, transparent, and stable democracies.  Unconventional sources such as Canada’s oil sands could help shift the global outlook somewhat.  Yet even with new supplies coming online, OPEC’s share of global oil production is expected to grow from 40 percent today to 50 percent by 2035.” 

“As a nation, we are importing more oil now than we were prior to September 11, 2001,” Lugar continued.  “This is especially concerning when you consider that some of the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on oil each year are diverted to governments and groups that do not share our interests.  Governments rich in oil from Iran to Venezuela are emboldened or insulated by their dominant position in oil markets.  For example, we continue to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program, yet other nations are hesitant to endanger their access to Iran’s oil and natural gas supplies.  In many oil rich countries, revenues are used to entrench corruption and authoritarianism even as citizens live in dire poverty.”

“We are living in an age when every American motorist relies upon production decisions in the Middle East.  It is an age of extreme vulnerability to oil supply disruptions from war, political instability, terrorism, or embargo.  It is an age in which every barrel produced, every barrel replaced with an alternative, and every barrel saved by efficiency has outsized importance,” Lugar also said in part.

“Although Americans and their leaders are embracing the idea of changing our energy destiny, we have not committed ourselves to the action steps required to achieve an alternative future,” Lugar said.  “American industry has made progress in commercializing ethanol as a major alternative fuel and pushed improvements in vehicle efficiency, but in the context of our larger energy vulnerability, progress has not been sufficient.  If our economy is crippled by an oil embargo, if terrorists succeed in disrupting our oil lifeline, or if we slide into a war because oil wealth has emboldened anti-American regimes, it will not matter that before disaster struck, the American public and its leaders began to gain an understanding of our vulnerability.”

“Solving our over-dependence on oil requires innovation, wise use of natural resources, and diplomacy.  As Americans, we must maximize the fuel efficiency of the combustion engine even as we accelerate new propulsion technology breakthroughs for individual vehicles and mass transit.  We must develop new forms of liquid fuels from domestic feedstocks like biomass and coal.  We must reverse the Obama Administration’s de facto prohibition on new oil drilling and reinvest in enhanced oil recovery.  We must work with foreign partners to improve transparency in markets and diversify supply routes.  Boosting trade with Canada offers tremendous opportunity to improve our energy security, and I encourage the State Department to expeditiously approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline is critical to American efforts to enhance the reliability of our oil supplies.”

# # #

Press Contact

Mark Helmke • 202-224-5918 mark_helmke@lugar.senate.gov www.facebook.com/senatorlugar www.twitter.com/senatorlugar