This Week’s Report: U.S. Oil Dependence

As drivers take to the road this summer, many may wonder why gasoline prices remain in the neighborhood of $3.50 a gallon when gas consumption is down nationally and the United States is producing more oil today than in more than a decade.

In this week’s report, veteran energy writer Jennifer Weeks examines the complex dynamics of oil production and pricing and addresses the question of whether the United States can break its dependence on foreign oil.

“Most mainstream economists say production decisions in the United States cannot affect world oil prices,” Weeks writes. Because oil is traded worldwide, geopolitical developments steer prices, and experts say “volatile energy costs are inescapable as long as America relies heavily on oil.”

Weeks’ report includes analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would carry oil from so-called tar sand deposits in western Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Advocates say the pipeline would generate jobs and make more oil available from a friendly ally. But environmentalists strongly oppose the project, arguing that it would consume huge amounts of water, create toxic waste and greenhouse gas emissions and damage Canadian forests and rivers.

This report is ideal for classes and papers in such disciplines as environmental science, energy policy, business, economics, geopolitics and consumer affairs.
--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor