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Can Obama really cut oil imports by one-third?
The president unveils a plan to dramatically reduce America's dependence on foreign oil within a decade. Is that realistic?
 
During a speech this week on American energy security, Obama joined a long line of presidents who have promised to cut our dependence on foreign oil.
During a speech this week on American energy security, Obama joined a long line of presidents who have promised to cut our dependence on foreign oil.
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On Wednesday, President Obama announced an ambitious plan to reduce oil imports by one-third in the next decade as part of a new push to increase our energy security. Obama wants to ramp up oil production in the U.S., increase fuel efficiency, boost next-generation biofuels, and use more natural gas. But given that just about every president since Richard Nixon has pledged to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, how likely is Obama's plan to succeed?

The president's plan has no chance: This will happen when pigs fly, says Christopher Mims in Grist. "It's hard to think of anything — short of an economic crash bigger than any ever seen in U.S. history, or perhaps an alien race forcing all of us to take to our bicycles — that could conceivably accomplish such a goal." And even those surreal ideas are probably more realistic than the one thing that might work: "A steep gas tax."
"Obama to reduce oil imports by a third via magic"

Hey, it's not so outlandish: "Cutting imports won't be that difficult," says Olivier Jakob of PetroMatrix, as quoted by Reuters. It would probably require U.S. refiners to sell more gas to the U.S. market, and that could be "a bit controversial." But "Saudi Arabia has given up on the West," because demand here "has peaked and the future is really in the East." So we may have to fend for ourselves in the future anyway.
"Instant view: Obama plans to curb U.S. oil imports by third"

This is merely a good start: "Cutting U.S. oil imports by one-third in about ten years is a laudable, reasonable, and ambitious goal," says Michael Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations. But even if we reached Obama's goal of importing 7.25 million barrels a day by 2025, that still leaves the U.S. hostage to "the vagaries of the oil markets." Still, it is a sensible plan, and the burden is now on Congress to show similar farsightedness.
"Obama's sensible oil and gas shift"

 

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