American energy policy: Lessons from a clash of partisan visions in the 2008 presidential election by ProQuest


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									Albert Legault

energy policy
Lessons from a clash of partisan visions in the 2008 presidential election

With less than 2.5 percent of the world’s discovered oil reserves, the United
States has climbed to third place among oil-producing countries, after Saudi
Arabia and the Russian Federation.1 The US consumes 24 percent of the
world’s oil production, at a rate of 20.7 million barrels per day. In 2007, the
US imported close to 14 mb/d, more than 66 percent of its oil consumption.
This dependency, one that all recent American presidents have denounced
in vain, could increase even more in the future. Under these conditions,
Washington presents itself with only two choices: reduce consumption or
increase domestic production. American production has been on the decline
for several decades, however, and Washington has made substantial efforts

Albert Legault is professor of political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where
he holds the Canada Research Chair in international relations. His recent research has
concentrated on energy policy and politics, and he has recently published Oil, Gas, and
Other Energies: A Primer (Technip, 2008). This article was translated by Damian Ferrese.
1 According to British Petroleum’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, American
production was at 6.9 million barrels per day in 2007, compared with 10.4 for Saudi
Arabia and 9.9 for the Russian Federation.

                                          | International Journal | Winter 2008-09 | 145 |
| Albert Legault |

to obtain everything it can from abroad. Consumption, meanwhile, is both
a function of the country’s economic growth and of its motorized population.

US consumption of primary energy resources has risen along with its resort
to combustible fossil fuels, the latter a major source of pollution. The
fundamental problem that the United States (as well as the rest of the world)
must solve is the pursuit of economic development while instituting efficient
practices in reducing greenhouse gas emission
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