21 June 2011

Bin Laden-proofing America’s Economy

In an article in the Washington Times, Robert McFarlane discusses the next generation of al Qaeda militants, and the likelihood they will attack strategic oil terminals in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. He writes:
Several factors make these oil-processing terminals attractive targets. 
The first is that if any of them were seriously disabled, which very nearly happened five years ago at Abqaiq, as many as 4 million barrels of processing capacity per day would be taken off the market for up to a year — enough to push the global price of crude to more than $200 a barrel and keep it there for at least a year. Petroleum-based fuel, which enables 97 percent of our road, rail and air transport carriers to move goods from farms and factories to markets, is literally the lifeblood of the global economy. 
Without it, nothing moves, crops rot, showrooms are empty, consumers stay home, jobs are lost, paralysis sets in, and our economy grinds to a halt. In short, petroleum-based fuel has become a strategic commodity — a product that, if disrupted or sold at an extravagant price, can cause our economy and our way of life to collapse.

The American economy is vulnerable. And we can greatly reduce that vulnerability by passing the Open Fuel Standard Act. McFarlane asks:

What can we and the rest of the world do to prevent this plausible scenario from taking place? What we can and must do is reduce petroleum’s strategic importance to our economy by opening our fuel market to competition. Today, unlike the choices one can make when purchasing toothpaste, clothing, food, movies and virtually any product in our highly competitive marketplace, there is no competition when you go to the pump. Worse, of course, the price you pay for that fuel is set by a foreign cartel, many of whose members don’t like us very much.

The Open Fuel Standard Act essentially says that by 2017 automakers will no longer be allowed to make cars that run only on gasoline. You can help make this bill a reality, bringing an end to oil's monopoly and the vulnerability it brings to America's economy, and you can begin today: Actions You Can Take.


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