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February 28, 2014

Making Energy Security a National Goal (Part 1)

In this two-part blog series, we explore the efforts Waste Management and others are taking to make energy security a national goal.

For seven years, I have served as a member of the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC) of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that seeks to reduce America’s dependence on oil in order to improve our national and economic security.

Waste Management has one of the largest fleets of trucks in the US. While we are working to lower our fuel costs and minimize truck emissions, we remain a major consumer of fuel from oil. Consequently, we’ve thought it important to be engaged with ESLC and SAFE’s public policy goal. We’ve also thought it important that we work with others to improve fuel economy for heavy duty trucks, which President Obama recently announced

So earlier this week, I was very pleased to read an opinion editorial in the New York Times, “Tempering Oil Dependence,” by my fellow ESLC member Admiral Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, and General Michael Hagee, 33rdCommandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Admiral Blair and General Hagee, co-chairs of SAFE’s newly established Commission on Energy and Geopolitics, challenge the country to set a national objective of reducing the role of oil in the transportation sector from 93 percent to 50 percent within the next 25 years.

This challenge of reducing American oil dependence comes only a few months after ESLC co-chairman Frederick W. Smith, CEO of FedEx Corporation, and former Secretary of State George Shultz published an opinion editorial, “Making the Most of the U.S. Energy Boom,” in the Wall Street Journal calling on the nation to invigorate efforts to displace oil use.

It is telling that military commanders, distinguished statesmen, and private sector leaders are united in the effort to improve U.S. energy security by reducing the country’s dependence on oil. American oil dependence threatens our economy and national security by exposing the country to the global oil market.

From an economic standpoint, this exposure has forced American households to spend on average $2,756 a year on gasoline. That’s more than double the $1,235/year spent in 2002. Note also that as of 2012, total U.S. economy-wide spending on petroleum fuels equaled $900 billion. Of that, $520 billion was spent by the private sector and public agencies. From a national security perspective, the U.S. military is forced to accept the burden of securing the world’s oil supply lines and infrastructure, an estimated cost of $83 billion annually. Clearly, there are economic and national security reasons to diversify our country’s transportation fuels. There are environmental reasons too…

Read more in Part 2 of this blog regarding Waste Management’s efforts to convert our fleet from trucks that run on diesel (a fuel derived from oil), to trucks that run on natural gas.