What Would an
Oil-Free Nation Look Like?

Guest author
Michael Palmer

An oil-free country is possible, but
improbable for the U.S. in the next two or three decades. The U.S. is headed in a different direction, increasing oil production domestically. Considering recent developments and oil production activities, apparently the goal for the U.S. has shifted to oil independence from other suppliers like the Middle East, instead of a shift to other energy sources.

It is noteworthy that there are other clean energy options available for development and distribution, and other world leaders are tapping into those sources. Countries such as Sweden and Denmark are already making great strides to become oil-free countries. Making this dramatic shift from oil to other forms of energy is not easy, and takes a strong commitment from politicians and citizens. The U.S. lags behind Europeans in its commitment to a green future using clean, renewable fuels.

Based on the complicated politics of change, many argue that the U.S. will never be free from its dependence on oil. In fact, with recent technological developments such as fracking, the U.S. has decided to commit more resources to increasing oil production domestically, instead of shifting to alternative energy production. Based on these developments, there is a buzz of speculation that the U.S. will become oil-independent, finally able to produce all or most of the oil it needs at home. According to a report published by the International Energy Agency in November 2012, the U.S. is poised to hit this goal of oil independence in the year 2035.

Follow the Leader
Batteries in electric car motorSweden has taken the lead in becoming an oil-free nation and has made great progress toward its 2020 goal of becoming oil-free, achieving an enviable drop from 77 percent to 32 percent of energy derived from oil during the years 1970 to 2003. The country’s politicians have done so much more than give lip-service to this important issue. They have taken concrete and sweeping action rather than establish an energy website “for show” with suggestions about how citizens can make personal improvements at home. They have built water and wind power sources. Swedish households have switched to wood pellets for home heating, decreasing heating oil sales by 85 percent. In terms of transportation, financial incentives like tax breaks are being provided to encourage the use of cars fueled by renewable fuels.

Political Considerations
While many U.S. presidents have declared a commitment to developing alternative energy sources over the past few decades, starting with President Carter and continuing through President Obama, there is little solid progress to date. Politics simply seem to get in the way. In a country where politicians are unlikely to take bold steps to upset their constituency, it is hard to imagine how the U.S. will move forward to accomplish an oil-free society.

With ongoing discussions about fiscal cliffs and economic stability looming large over the U.S. political landscape, it is no surprise that Washington politicians have set aside the discussion about energy alternatives for another day that never seems to come. With unemployment still high and “gun control” discussions taking center stage, politicians appear to be in crisis-management mode. The government hardly seems up to the task of setting environmental policy for the future. In the meantime, websites such as Energy Providers Texas can help some residents take some control of their energy use.