WHAT DOES OIL COST?
Posted by Jacob Stokes
Right on time, just as DC recovers from the salmon-induced hangover of the president’s State of the Union address, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce begins calling the administration’s plan to shift the country’s energy mix away from oil and coal “unrealistic” and insisting it’s too costly. Is the Chamber right? Let’s examine.
If shifting to clean energy is too costly, what does the status quo cost? As Gen. Wes Clark points out, the costs are enormous in terms of the money Americans send overseas:
It’s an $821-million-a-day addiction to foreign oil. That’s $300 billion a year, or about $1,000 for every American—man, woman, and child. In June we sent $27 billion abroad; in July it was over $29 billion.
Our dependency on foreign oil costs more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s about 60 percent of the total U.S. trade deficit. If we weren’t sending the money away, it would be enough to repair America’s woeful infrastructure in a few years. Enough to send every child in America to college, and fix public education to boot. At a time when we’ve lost 8 million jobs, it would be enough to hire 3 million Americans at $100,000 per year, or almost 8 million at about $40,000 per year.
If a foreign country came here and said, “Pay us this tax,” we would consider it an act of war. Yet when a political party discusses trying to recapture $300 billion a year in taxes, it’s political suicide. Americans pay billions of dollars per month to foreign countries—some of them incubators of terrorism, nearly all of them unstable dictatorships—and it isn’t even a campaign issue.