U.S. Oil Dependence

June 22, 2012 • Volume 22, Issue 23
Is independence from foreign oil possible?
By Jennifer Weeks


Demonstrators at the White House oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (Ben Powless)
Demonstrators at the White House on Aug. 25, 2011, oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from “tar sand” deposits in western Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. (Ben Powless)

The United States is producing more oil today than it has since 1998, but gasoline prices are still high, averaging more than $3.50 per gallon nationally in early June. New technology is making it possible to extract oil from tar sands and shale rock, but that oil is expensive, and its production causes major environmental impacts. President Obama advocates expanding production of all energy sources, including oil, gas, nuclear power, wind and solar, while warning that the United States can never pump enough oil to sway world prices. Republicans counter that the Obama administration has restricted oil production and that drilling should expand in Western states, the Arctic and coastal waters. Environmentalists want more support for technologies to replace oil, such as electric cars and biofuels. But until those sources become economically competitive with oil, the United States will be subject to price swings in a world oil market that it cannot control.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oil and Gasoline Prices
Jun. 22, 2012  U.S. Oil Dependence
Nov. 01, 2011  Future of the Gulf States
Jan. 04, 2008  Oil Jitters Updated
Jul. 2007  Energy Nationalism
Sep. 30, 2005  Domestic Energy Development
Jan. 24, 2003  Oil Diplomacy
Aug. 07, 1998  Oil Production in the 21st Century
Aug. 23, 1991  Oil Imports
Oct. 30, 1987  Persian Gulf Oil
Apr. 04, 1986  Oil Prices
Dec. 23, 1983  Quest for Energy Independence
Sep. 23, 1983  OPEC: 10 Years After the Arab Oil Boycott
May 29, 1981  Western Oil Boom
Aug. 25, 1978  Oil Imports
Feb. 10, 1978  Oil Antitrust Action
Dec. 17, 1976  Alaskan Development
May 17, 1974  Arab Oil Money
Mar. 15, 1974  Oil Taxation
Jul. 18, 1973  Offshore Oil Search
Mar. 28, 1973  Persian Gulf Oil
Nov. 01, 1972  Gasoline Prices
Oct. 14, 1970  Fuel Shortages
Nov. 12, 1969  Alaskan Oil Boom
Dec. 11, 1968  Oil Shale Development
Oct. 26, 1960  World Oil Glut
Sep. 10, 1958  Middle East Oil
Oct. 30, 1951  Oil Nationalization
Aug. 11, 1950  Oil Imports
Apr. 23, 1947  Oil of the Middle East
Jan. 22, 1946  Offshore Oil
Mar. 09, 1944  Oil Supply
Dec. 24, 1935  Oil in World Politics
May 07, 1931  Control of Production in the Oil Industry
Mar. 27, 1929  The Oil Leasing Policy of the New Administration
Jun. 08, 1927  Oil Conservation and Stabilization
Feb. 08, 1926  The Mexican Land and Petroleum Laws
Apr. 18, 1925  The Price of Gasoline
Feb. 11, 1924  Background of the Oil Lease Cases
Sep. 01, 1923  Gasoline
Energy and the Environment