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Ending America's Energy Dependence on Foreign Oil

Updated on February 28, 2012
The United States is spending $1 billion/day on oil imports
The United States is spending $1 billion/day on oil imports

America has developed a dependency on foreign energy sources; mainly middle eastern oil. We have had this energy dependency since the gas lines of the 1970’s. For some reason the politicians in America refuse to address these dependency problems relating to America's energy consumption. It is not guaranteed that politicians can solve America's energy dependency, but I will guarantee you that they have not even attempted to do what is in their power. That is the creation of nuclear plants and granting access to oil companies within America's borders for oil exploration. Currently America's energy dependency creates a situation where we are being extorted by middle eastern countries that fund terrorism. America's dependency on foreign oil has to end. We are only one middle eastern crisis away from seeing $5 a gallon gasoline once again.

A lot of people oppose increasing oil exportation and creating more nuclear power plants. They think that it is the wrong direction for ending America's dependency on foreign oil. They are worried about the environment, and they want alternative energy solutions. Those people are not alone; everyone cares about the environment. Nobody wants to breath in polluted air, drink dirty water, and see waste pollution everywhere that we look. Americans can be reasonable and responsible environmentally while we attempt to end our dependency on foreign oil. America can take a big step toward ending our dependency by creating energy plants that will maximize our energy output for every dollar that we investment. That is what this article is about. It is going to list where we are with current technology; how energy producing technologies compare to one another, and how far these technologies are from implementation. Due to the length that would be needed to cover all “green Technologies”, this article will only give limited input on the power producing industries like wind. It will be the first part of a series that focuses on the automotive alternatives that look to eliminate America's dependency on hydrocarbon based fuels (oil).

Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles are powered by an electric motor.  They have no dependency on combustion to create propulsion, therefore they account for zero direct emissions.   They can be powered completely on American created energy sources.  If electric vehicles replaced our current internal combustion engine for passenger vehicles, then America would become completely energy dependant. 

The drawbacks

There are several drawbacks to electric vehicles, which is why there are not many people that currently own them. The main drawback is the charge time. Some claim that they can get 300 miles on a charge and recharge the batteries to 80% in 30 minutes. The Chevy Volt is an example of this, but there is a catch. Chevrolet tells us that a full recharge takes up to 8 hours on 110V power, and about 3 hours using 220V. That would be needed after every 40 miles if the volt was a pure electric vehicle.

The 2011 Chevy Volt side view
The 2011 Chevy Volt side view

Luckily for us it comes with a hybrid 1.4L flex fuel engine that will supply power through a generator to the batteries which will power the electric motor. This will provide the Volt with a total range of 300 miles without a recharge. This still does not take us off gasoline since flex fuel is a fancy way of saying gasoline or Ethanol. The cost is still unknown, but the ballpark is around $40,000. Battery life seems to be a mystery, but a 400lbs. 6ft. long lithium-ion battery can not be cheap to replace. Performance is another question. Rumor has it that the volt weighs in at 4000lbs, yet GM insists that it will do 0-60MPH in 8.5-9seconds. The Volt is not yet in production, the GM website currently has it listed as a 2011 vehicle.

100% Electric Vehicles do not produce any direct pollution, but the energy used to create the electricity does.  Currently the systems that would deliver that extra energy would be coal burning plants, natural gas burning power plants, and nuclear power plants.  If the United States were to go 100% electric, then we would have to produce a lot more power.  Currently our energy grid is already stressed.  The transmission system needs to be upgraded for our current electricity consumption.  If we were to go electric, then we will need to create many more power plants and major upgrade to the transmission grid.  What method do we need to use to gain the electric power that will replace our current hydrocarbon based transportation system?  

one of the solar arrays of the Mojave Solar Park
one of the solar arrays of the Mojave Solar Park

Why not Solar

Solar power as a source of energy is so inefficient at this point that it is not a feasible alternative to proven energy producing methods. Even where solar power is producing at its maximum capability like the plant in the Mojave Desert, it still can not match the output of a nuclear plant. The cost to build a state of the art solar plants such as the 553MW Mojave Solar Park is $2 billion. The Mojave solar park uses 9 square miles and consists of 1.2 million mirrors. Those mirrors must be maintained for maximum power generation. Any sand on the surface will reduce energy output. Keep in mind that the Mohave Solar Park is in the desert. A major issue with solar power is that there are not very many deserts in the United States. The reason why solar plants are located in deserts is because the solar panels are highly dependent on temperature.  In order to produce the most energy solar panels need high ambient temperature, high solar panel temperature, and maximum sunlight on the panels. There is some talk about salts that will allow for solar to create more energy on cloudy days and even at night, but the use of salts have not been used on any large scale projects as of 2009. The cost estimates for applying these salt technologies is in the neighborhood of 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

The South Texas Project
The South Texas Project

Nuclear Power

The newest nuclear projects cost quite a bit more, but they produce much more energy. The south Texas Project will cost $10 billion or more for its two 1358 Megawatt reactors. The price for Kilowatt hour is estimated between 3-5 cents. When compared to the salted solar plants we can see the savings. The 2716 total megawatt production of the South Texas Project is 5 times more than the production of the Mojave Solar Park. Nuclear plants are not dependent on a natural rarity like a desert for maximum effectiveness. That means that Nuclear energy  can be produced in all parts of the country as long as America can provide them with access to water.

Nuclear Waste

The nuclear waste for any future plants is supposed to be taken care of with the Yucca Mountain, Nevada storage facility that energy customers have been paying for since 1982. For some political reason the plans have been delayed, and its funding has been reduced by the Obama administration. This is an issue that needs to be worked out.  Proper storage of nuclear waste is an essential component to ending America's dependency on foreign oil.

How do we get there?

If Lithium Ion technology or some other form of battery develops, then electric vehicles could end America's dependency on foreign energy sources like middle eastern oil. Hybrid vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are a step in the right direction. They will not end America's dependency on middle eastern oil, because they still require a gasoline powered engine. Without the gasoline engine electric vehicles can not even fulfill the everyday driving needs of most American's. Once electric powered vehicle technology reaches a level past this hybrid stage, then America will need major government investment in our energy infrastructure. The current focus on “green” technology will not meet America's energy needs. We need nuclear power plants that create high energy output if we are going to end America's dependency on foreign oil, power our electric vehicles, and live without blackouts.

2010 Copyright Michiganman567

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    • pramodgokhale profile image


      5 years ago from Pune( India)


      I heard that USA has reserves of shale gas, a new find which will benefit America and the world. USA is sharing this new source to member of Free trade agreement and India is requesting US to supply.

      At least top some extent we can cut expenditure on imports or create own sources and government get revenue and user industries will have benefit.

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for the comment pramodgokhale. I agree that there are many sources of influence that keep us from following the best courses.

    • pramodgokhale profile image


      5 years ago from Pune( India)


      Oil shock of 1973 has changed global economics and producing nations formed cartel and it was necessary to search alternative sources. USA was always ahead in innovation and solar, hydro, and new technologies in auto engineering , so partly oil dependence can be curtailed but total self sufficiency and zero dependence on imports looks fine but that will alter global trade and commerce, if USA has advantages but India and China would get easily because we need oil, secondaly petrochemical industries can not be closed only they need to develop eco-friendly products and will cause rise in overheads and more expenditure on R & D.

      For clean environment it is good to search alternative fuels but implemenatationof such schemes is not easy because of lobbies, monopolies would obstruct.

      Really though provoking .

      thanki you.

      pramod gokhale

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      No I have not read his book. I agree that we should be the leaders in green technology, but we can not magically make something happen. We need to keep politicians, mainly on the left from putting loads of money into one field and forcing industry to pursue that field at the expense of all others. That is what happened with the electric cars. You don't even hear about fuel cells anymore because all of the research money is wrapped up in electric vehicles. Thank you for your comment.

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      @mljdgulley I don't know how much concern there is for energy independence right now. Maybe if something happens in the middle east and oil gets to be $5/gallon people will get more interest in the subject. Thank you for sharing your husbands story. That is interesting. Maybe radiation exposure isn't as dangerous as we are led to believe. But, the media will keep on scaring everyone. Japan didn't help the cause. I have seen the reports from North Dakota. They have more jobs than people, so why aren't we doing more of that?

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      @dahoglund Thanks for your comment. It's strange how they ignore the reality that electricity has to be made somewhere. But, then again reality is ignored a lot when it comes to government involvement in energy production.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Have you read "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman? Your hub outlines what his book is all about. He goes into exquisite detail about how America has to change NOW. Not later - there COULD BE no later with what 7 billion (and counting) are doing to the planet. We have the chance to be world leaders in green technology and it's an incredible untapped market. I think the politicians are all bought out - so it's up to the people to take back this nation to help it become what it once was. Thank you for writing this hub!!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image


      6 years ago

      Maybe this hub will get more traffic. It is a very timely hub as we are in election year. My husband worked in a uranium mine in Wyoming for five years before the government shut down the mines. That was almost 30 years ago. Today the health problems he has are from agent orange he was in vietnam war. He has no problem with being exposed to the radiation of uranium. Check out what is happening in North Dakota with the oil business.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Nobody seems to address the electricity used by electric vehicles. It has to be produced by something like coal.Back in the 1970's all electric houses were all the rage. Suddenly they weren't because of the cost of electricity.

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for reading phdast7. I like this hub, but it doesn't get a lot of views. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Good Hub. All of these concerns are still relevant, especially as we move toward electing out next president. We need to consider and allocate funds to a wide variety of energy sources. Thanks for a rational presentation of all the options.

    • eventsyoudesign profile image


      7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      We have technologies available to us which could end our dependency on foreign oil, but the oil industry does not want this to happen. After all, they have to make their money. It seems odd that some of the scientists that have tried to patten their inventions have been bought out by oil or the auto industries. I guess I should elaborate, but to be honest, I am too tired to do so. I wish the American people would wake-up and vote against congressmen that are funded by big business. We need to clean house and have term limits. The American people need to see that our planet is important and if we do not make changes our children and their children will suffer because of this. Thanks for another great article. Very thorough and informative. You are a good writer. Teresa

    • michiganman567 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for your comment prasetio, I appreciate your time. I am a fan of nuclear energy. We have a plant 20 miles from my house; it has never been a problem.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      nice information. The key is how we made the alternative energy for supporting the existing energy. Nuclear energy also good as long as it use in goodness not for the war reason. I rated this hub!


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