HOUSTON, TX (RushPRnews) 02/10/09--Today energy expert T. Boone Pickens highlighted the negative impact of Americaâ€™s staggering dependence on foreign oil by focusing on Houstonâ€™s deteriorating roads and interstates and stunning traffic congestion at a news conference in Houston at TranStar, a consortium responsible for providing Transportation Management and Emergency Management services to the Greater Houston Region. Pickens was joined by State Representative Beverly Woolley, who voiced her concerns over the enormous transfer of wealth involved with our dependence on foreign oil.
Pickens said the U.S. imported tens of billions of dollars of oil last month from oil rich nations that could have been invested in infrastructure and roads instead. Based on the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energyâ€™s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 67.4 percent of its oil, or 408.7 million barrels in January 2009, sending approximately $17 billion overseas to foreign governments. Of note, the U.S. has become even more dependent on the Middle East for oil as overall oil imports from Mexico have been on a steady decline and will soon be non-existent, placing additional revenue in the hands of American enemies.
â€œHoustonians, like most Americans, spend too much of their time in traffic, burning gas in their cars from imported oil from the Middle East and other nations, which could be used to build new roads and highways that meet our infrastructure needs,â€ said Pickens. â€œLast month alone, we imported nearly 409 million barrels of oil at a cost of nearly $17 billion. That is just unacceptable. How can the U.S. afford to send billions of dollars â€“ $381,000 per minute in January alone â€“ overseas to foreign countries while domestic infrastructure on our soil remains severely underfunded? Americaâ€™s dependence on foreign oil is streaming revenue away from domestic projects and into other countries, many of which are our enemies. Oil rich nations are reaping the benefits of this great transfer of wealth to build state-of-the-art roads while the U.S. struggles on congested roads and collapsing highways and bridges.â€
â€œThis is the second month that we have published the monthly oil import numbers. We think it is critical to track our progress as a country as we work to reduce the amount of oil we import and we will continue to highlight this number every month,â€ said Pickens.
U.S. roads and interstates are the backbone of the transportation system, allowing Americans to travel nearly 3 trillion miles annually. However, 35 percent of Americaâ€™s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and 36 percent of major urban highways are congested.1 Congestion causes the average peak period traveler to spend an extra 38 hours of travel time annually and consume an additional 26 gallons of fuel, amounting to a cost of $710 per traveler per year.2
Many states are finding that the main cause of congestion is the increase in population. For example, in the last 25 years, the population in Texas increased 57 percent and road use nearly doubled, but state road capacity grew by only 8 percent.3 While major cities in Texas, like Houston, have hundreds of ready-to-go projects in place to help relieve traffic, funding for these projects are scarce.4
Importantly, oil importing nations are using U.S. dollars and are allocating increased funds for transportation and creating miles of new roads annually. Here are just two examples:
In 2007, Russia announced plans to build 2,500 miles of new roads annually by 2010 and to invest $437.9 billion in its rail network by 2030. 5 Russia plans to spend $1.1 trillion on infrastructure by 2015.6
In Qatarâ€™s budget for 2008/2009, the government allocated $8.4 billion for roads (76 percent of total funds allocated for development projects) and 32 percent of total budgetary spending.7
Continued Mr. Pickens, â€œMy fear is that domestic traffic will worsen while nations abroad zoom down glistening, brand-new highways unless we act now to become more energy independent and stop this transfer of wealth. The Pickens Plan can get us there.â€
Unveiled on July 8, 2008 by T. Boone Pickens, the Pickens Plan is a detailed solution for ending the United Statesâ€™ growing dependence on foreign oil. Earlier this year, when oil prices reached $140/barrel, America was spending about $700 billion for foreign oil, equaling the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. That figure has decreased some while oil prices have retreated, but the U.S. is still dependent on foreign nations for nearly 70 percent of its oil, representing a continuing national economic and national security threat. The plan calls for investing in power generation from domestic renewable resources such as wind and using our abundant supplies of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing more than one-third of our imported oil.
More than 1,400,000 people have joined the Pickens Army through the website www.pickensplan.com, which has had over 14,000,000 hits.
1 The Road Information Program
2 Texas Transportation Institute
3 Governor Perry
4 The Houston Chronicle
6 The Wall Street Journal
7 Gulf News
illustration from Salon.com