President Obama pledged to end the "Tyranny of Oil." Much needs be done but enormous strides have been taken and are underway. The Energy Information Agency expects a reduction of 6.9% in petroleum based gasoline consumption this year from the 371.2 million gallons/day consumed in 2007. Demand for all petroleum based fuels-gasoline, diesel and jet fuel fell 7.1% in 2008, as reported in the Wall Street Journal ("Oil Industry Braces for Drop in U.S. Thirst for Gasoline," April 13, 2009).
We are all aware that the recession is currently curbing demand as budget conscious consumers forgo long road trips and laid off workers simply stop. Yet the pullback is far broader, more far reaching than the current economic constraints.
A multiplicity of factors are in play that for the first time will begin to end the oil cabal's long and painful hegemony over our lives. The government is undertaking important initiatives to increase energy efficiency and the usage of biofuels. The recently passed economic stimulus program has significant new loan guarantees to help renewable energy businesses to get financing and to start up new projects. Mass transportation will return to focus and new high-speed rail initiatives will change the American landscape of rail travel. The administration is working assiduously to toughen the average 35 miles a gallon standard for vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2020 as mandated by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.
Just last year biofuels made up approximately 7% of gasoline consumption. That is expected, at the very least, to double over the next decade.
Combine these factors alone with the changing life style of Americans, minimizing their commutes by living and working closer to their workplace, working from home part or full time, and a steep increase of the use of public transportation, either bus or train, by those still accessing their work destinations.
In full, the changes will be significant. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in the article cited above, "Much of contemporary America from the design of its cities to its tax code and its foreign policy is predicated on a growing thirst for gasoline."
That thirst is beginning to abate. Even the oil patch's biggest cheerleaders, ExxonMobil, who earlier helped frighten a public and a market to $147/bbl oil, now finds itself obligated to acknowledge that that U.S. consumption of gasoline has peaked. This, the same organization that in December 2006 predicted that world oil demand would increase 60 percent by 2030 with an energy mix 25 years hence virtually unchanged, with oil, gas and coal remaining predominant. This, as if developments in biofuels, electric battery technology,solar, wind power, and plans for massive expansion of nuclear power in markets such as China and India barely existed. Shamefully, this prediction provided much of the rationale for the relentless escalation and super spike in prices a year-and-a-half later.
And just in case you missed it, Cheerleader in Chief, Rex "ethanol is moonshine" Tillerson of Exxon received what is now termed a "compensation" package of $23.9 million for 2008, an increase of 10% from the year before. This while being a happy bystander carried along by a cartel- and speculator-manipulated market, as tens of thousands of American families were cutting their food budgets to pay for their gas bills to drive to work and fuel bills to heat their homes.
With the tone deaf leadership of the likes of ExxonMobil (also remember ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond and his $400 million 'retirement' package) and the moral vacuity of too many in the oil patch, that maybe, just maybe, this is the time to seriously consider the creation of a National Oil Trust (please see "The Oil Industry is Driving Away With Our Future -- The Norway Solution," April 24, 2006).
We are fortunate to have a president who understands that it is long past time to getting the oil monkey off our backs. Could he go the next step? He would probably be surprised how many throughout the length and breadth of the nation would support an effort to bring the nation's oil and gas treasure back to its rightful owners.