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U.S.military group urges slash in oil use
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Nov 4, 2011

A group of retired U.S. military officials urged the United States to reduce oil use by 30 percent over the next decade for the sake of national security.

Noting that worldwide demand for oil is increasing "at an alarming rate," the Military Advisory Board of the Center for Naval Analyses in its new report, "Ensuring America's Freedom of Movement: a National Security Imperative to Reduce America's Oil Dependence," calls for "immediate, swift and aggressive action" to achieve the 30 percent reduction.

U.S. Department of Transportation data indicate that in 2010 the nation used 13.5 million barrels of oil each day just for transportation, totaling about 5 billion barrels for the year.

The MAB report calls for more rigorous fuel economy standards for cars and suggests nine alternatives to conventional oil and gas, including algae-based biofuels, compressed natural gas and plug-in cars, most of which they said are available or will be within five years.

Reducing oil use by 30 percent would expand the nation's foreign policy options, the retired military officials say, "because our thirst for oil would no longer tether us as tightly to certain unreliable partners."

"Our reliance on this single commodity makes us vulnerable … We are held hostage to price fixing by a cartel that includes actors who would do our nation harm, and we are too often called upon to risk the lives of our sons and daughters to protect fragile oil supplies form this very cartel."

While even a small interruption of the daily oil supply affects the nation's economic engine, a sustained disruption, the authors warn, would alter every aspect of Americans' lives, from the availability and cost of food, the ability to manufacture and provide goods and services to freedom of movement for individuals.

In a scenario depicting a 30-day blockage of oil flow from the Strait of Hormuz -- the major passageway for Middle East oil -- and its effect on the U.S. trucking industry, the MAB analysis concluded that the U.S. would lose nearly $75 billion in gross domestic product.

However, if the nation had already cut oil dependence by 30 percent, as the authors are urging, the impact of such a blockage on the Strait of Hormuz would be nearly zero.

MAB warned against merely substituting domestic production for foreign oil, citing an unstable global oil market.

"Simply replacing foreign with domestic oil without reducing consumption does not reduce the national security and economic risks associated with a global oil market that is vulnerable to manipulation and disruption," the report said.

The report was formally released this week at U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate briefings.

"The cost of inaction is too high," MAB Vice Chairman retired Navy Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, concluded in the report. "A 30 percent reduction in oil consumption would loosen our tether to hostile states, reduce our trade deficit, and keep the money here at home to create jobs."

MAB members have 400 years of collective military experience, the organization says.

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