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Reduce Oil Dependence Costs

Nearly 40% of the oil we use is imported, costing us roughly $300 billion annually. Increased domestic oil production from shale formations and improved fuel economy standards have decreased oil imports over the past few years, but the U.S. Department of Energy projects that we will continue to rely on imports for 35% to 40% of our petroleum needs in the future.

U.S. Petroleum Use, 1970-2012

Most of the world's oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East, and about 72% are controlled by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members.

Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly—about $2 trillion from 2004 to 2008.

Solutions

It's unclear whether we will ever completely eliminate our need to import oil, but we can reduce cartel market control and the economic impact of price shocks by reducing our petroleum consumption.

EPA has established new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for new cars and trucks to help decrease our dependence on oil and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Increased standards for model year 2012 to 2025 vehicles are projected to

  • Gradually increase real-world fuel economy to about 45 mpg for the average car and 32 mpg for the average truck
  • Save consumers more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs
  • Reduce our dependence on oil by more than 2 million barrels per day in 2025—about half of the oil that we currently import from OPEC countries each day
  • For vehicles purchased in 2025, save new car buyers $8,000 in fuel costs over that vehicle's lifetime (when compared to a vehicle meeting the model year 2011 CAFE standards)
Estimated Annual Fuel Savings for the Average Vehicle by Model Year

Ultimately, the solution to this problem lies in technological progress:

  • Developing advanced vehicle technologies that use energy more efficiently
  • Creating new energy sources that can replace petroleum cleanly and cost-effectively

You Can Help

You can help improve our energy security by selecting a vehicle that uses less petroleum. Each vehicle in our Find and Compare Cars section has an Energy Impact Score that shows the amount of petroleum it uses each year.

Energy Impact Score Example

You can also decrease your petroleum use by getting the best fuel economy possible out of your current car by driving sensibly, keeping your car in shape, and planning and combining trips.

View Data Sources...

U.S. petroleum use 1970–2011: EIA. 2012. Annual Energy Review 2011, Table 5.1a.Adobe Acrobat Icon

U.S. petroleum use 2012: EIA. 2013. Monthly Energy Review, Table. 3.1.Adobe Acrobat Icon

Proven oil reserve estimates: EIA. 2013. International Energy Statistics Database, (accessed July 19, 2013).

Information on impact of CAFE standards:

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