Catalyst Summer 2014


Whether a well is drilled or "fracked," the oil that is extracted brings the same problems along with it.

There’s Nothing New about “New Oil”

By Eric Bontrager

Recent commercials and excited talk about growing American energy production make it sound as if oil companies have discovered a previously unknown oil treasure trove, but this "new oil" is anything but new. As the era of cheap and easy oil comes to an end, the industry is exploiting increasingly expensive and dirty sources of oil, turning (for example) to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to pump oil out of rocks—an extraction method once deemed too costly and risky to pursue.

Fortunately, we don't have to accept the status quo. Scientists and engineers at UCS have developed “Half the Oil,” a realistic plan to cut U.S. oil use in half within 20 years—and the good news is that we’re already making progress. The historic fuel economy and global warming emissions standards for new passenger vehicles you helped UCS secure in recent years are expected to reduce our oil use by more than 4 million barrels per day by 2035.  In addition, strengthened fuel efficiency standards for trucks are on the way (see Advances), the first truly sustainable biofuels facilities are online, and electric vehicles are entering U.S. roadways in record-breaking numbers.

If we stay on this path, we can position the United States as a global leader in transportation technology, reduce oil spills and pollution-related health problems, and insulate consumers from gasoline price swings. So it’s time to accelerate—not slow down—our efforts to secure a Half the Oil future. That means supporting existing policies that encourage efficiency and innovation, and pushing for stronger state and federal support for clean transportation technologies.

Join our campaign to move the country toward a future of cleaner transportation. Learn how.

It’s not surprising that the oil industry wants to drive the nation toward a future of so-called new oil: Americans spend $2 billion a day on oil. The oil companies use that money to play the same old game—only this time with higher stakes—instead of investing in long-term solutions to our country’s energy needs. We don’t need to go along, because we have a better plan—one that will cut our projected oil use in half over 20 years while saving money, cleaning our air, reducing global warming emissions, and increasing prosperity. A Half the Oil future is an energy future that works for all of us.

Press Secretary Eric Bontrager focuses on transportation and energy issues at UCS.

Photos: © Sanjay Suchak (Eric Bontrager); © Wikimedia Commons (left top); © BLS (right top)