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OCTOBER 15, 2003
11:17 AM
CONTACT:  Sierra Club
David Willett 202-675-6698
OPEC Oil Embargo--30 Years Later On Anniversary of Embargo, Bush Administration and Congress are Poised to Increase Oil Dependence
WASHINGTON - October 15 - This Friday, October 17 marks the 30th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. The anniversary comes just as Congress is debating an energy bill that ignores many of the lessons the embargo taught us. At the time, many people thought that the long gas lines and economic slowdown was a wake-up call to cut America's oil dependence. But a look at this year's energy bill reveals that the Bush Administration and its allies in Congress have forgotten these lessons.

Instead of moving forward with 21st century solutions, the current energy bill takes America backwards by giving up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other sensitive lands to oil drilling, opens the door to drilling off America's coasts, threatening our beaches and the wildlife that lives on and around them, and actually increases our dependence on oil by creating new loopholes that allow automakers to undermine existing fuel economy standards.

Oil Imports

* Today, America imports more oil from OPEC than we did right before the 1973 embargo. In 1973, OPEC imports accounted for 17 percent of US oil consumption, while in 2001 OPEC supplied nearly 28 percent of our oil.

* The U.S. currently spends $200,000 per minute to pay for overseas oil products.

* Total oil imports have risen from 36 percent in 1975 to nearly 53 percent of our oil consumption today.

* The U.S. sits on only 3 percent of known global oil reserves yet consumes 25 percent of the world's oil. America cannot drill its way to energy independence.

Fuel Economy

* The first fuel economy standards were passed in 1975 in response to the oil embargo--doubling the fuel economy of American vehicles within ten years and saving America nearly 3 million barrels of oil per day (or 14 percent of today's consumption.)

* The technology exists today to make all cars, trucks, and SUVs average 40 miles per gallon. Taking this step would save nearly 4 million barrels of oil per day - more oil than we currently import from the Persian Gulf and could ever take out of the Arctic Refuge, combined.

There's a better way. Clearly we need greater energy independence, but we can't drill our way there. Congress should reject this Bush Administration-backed energy bill and instead pass a sound energy policy that will protect our environment and increase our energy security. A responsible energy policy would increase our use of renewable energy like wind and solar, cut our oil dependence by increasing fuel economy of cars, SUV, and other light trucks, protect America's natural heritage, and modernize America's electricity grid.


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