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November 10, 2008

New Tomdispatch


Obama's Toughest Challenge
America's Energy Crunch Comes Home

By Michael T. Klare

Of all the challenges facing President Barack Obama next January, none is likely to prove as daunting, or important to the future of this nation, as that of energy. After all, energy policy -- so totally mishandled by the outgoing Bush-Cheney administration -- figures in each of the other major challenges facing the new president, including the economy, the environment, foreign policy, and our Middle Eastern wars. Most of all, it will prove a monumental challenge because the United States faces an energy crisis of unprecedented magnitude that is getting worse by the day.

The U.S. needs energy -- lots of it. Day in and day out, this country, with only 5% of the world's population, consumes one quarter of the world's total energy supply. About 40% of our energy comes from oil: some 20 million barrels, or 840 million gallons a day. Another 23% comes from coal, and a like percentage from natural gas. Providing all this energy to American consumers and businesses, even in an economic downturn, remains a Herculean task, and will only grow more so in the years ahead. Addressing the environmental consequences of consuming fossil fuels at such levels, all emitting climate-altering greenhouse gases, only makes this equation more intimidating.

As President Obama faces our energy problem, he will have to address three overarching challenges:

1. The United States relies excessively on oil to supply its energy needs at a time when the future availability of petroleum is increasingly in question.

2. Our most abundant domestic source of fuel, coal, is the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases when consumed in the current manner.

3. No other source of energy, including natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels, wind power, and solar power is currently capable of supplanting our oil and coal consumption, even if a decision is made to reduce their importance in our energy mix.

This, then, is the essence of Obama's energy dilemma. Let's take a closer look at each of its key components.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 10, 2008 06:21 PM

Use less, it brought the pump price down fast, it'll work on the other problems too.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 10, 2008 08:02 PM

tim: Great article, hope WE get at least half.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 10, 2008 10:16 PM

Using is less is another source of energy. It should be mildly irritating whenever anybody lists renewable energy sources and doesn't include using less, since there's no cheaper source of renewable energy than greater energy efficiency.

Posted by: buermann at November 11, 2008 12:12 AM

There is nowadays a surfeit of Open Letters to Obama aka O-blah-blah imploring him about "What he should do" from the Left Liberals. As if Obama cares a whit about what they think. He doesn't.
All he wanted is Power. And now he has it.

This sort of naive thinking is touching in a child but is repellant coming from a mature person.

All these people are fooled by Obama's pretending to be intelligent, caring man. Personalities doesn't matter. All you have to look at is the list of paymasters who paid his fare to Whitehouse and the list of advisers he has surronded with now. There are no surprises. You are going to get 3rd term of Clinton.

Posted by: Ajit at November 11, 2008 04:30 AM