One of the side effects that may come from greening transportation is to reduce fossil oil dependence. Whether the green transportation uses biofuels or electricity, it’s not a fossil oil based fuel. The negative effects of fossil oil dependence include higher prices, and geomacroeconomic imbalance stemming from the primary location of fossil oil deposits as compared to the primary locations where fossil oil products are used. This is of course a different set of concerns than what usually drives interest in green transportation. Yet the last few years have brought us ever higher prices for fossil oil based fuels, with a resulting stress on individual budgets that caused big worries through much of 2008.
A recent study, Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States’ Oil Vulnerability and Solutions for Change, from the Natural Resources Defense Council attempts to rank U.S. states on their vulnerability to oil spikes. The ranking is based on the average percentage of income that states’ drivers spend on gasoline. In the most vulnerable states drivers are spending over 9% of their income on gasoline. In 2008 drivers were the most vulnerable due to the higher gasoline prices that year.
Some states are taking more action than others to alleviate oil price vulnerability. These actions include clean cars, clean fuel, smart growth, and mass transit. All those actions have side effects to lower fossil oil fuel usage.
Many are making bogus calls to address oil price instability by simply drilling for more oil (“Drill Baby Drill, Drill Here Drill Now”). The truth is that the United States has only 2% of the worlds oil reserves, the United States oil fields are well past their peak of production, the United States imports nearly 70% of the oil it needs, and there is no opportunity for oil supplies within the United States territory to supply the oil required to power the United States economy. This threatens the economic health of the United States particularly since 96% of our transportation system relies on fossil oil fuels.
It is the system we live within which produces that 96% dependency on fossil oil fuels for transportation. That system includes cities designed around highway systems which promote car use rather than being designed for walkability and mass transit. Government actions to promote clean cars, clean fuel, smart growth, and mass transit tend to shift the population away from using fossil oil based fuels for transportation.
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