Dependence on oil—particularly in the transportation sector—impacts U.S. national security and economic prosperity.
The United States consumes approximately 19 million barrels of oil each day. Oil provides an incredible 97 percent of the energy that powers American cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft. As a result of this utter reliance, consumers and businesses are powerless against price changes, as they have practically no means to choose less costly alternatives. When oil (and gasoline and diesel) prices rise, the increased spending on it comes at the expense of spending on other goods and services, with negative consequences that spread through the economy.
Rapidly rising oil demand in emerging markets like China, restricted supplies from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), instability in oil-producing regions, and other factors result in a delicate balance between global demand and global supply that can easily come undone. Over the past decade in particular, these trends have resulted in very high and volatile oil prices, and today they show few signs of meaningfully abating.
Because oil is relatively easy to transport by tanker, pipeline, rail, and truck, there is a single global market for it, with many supplier countries and many consumer countries (plus many countries that are both, like the United States).
Prices for oil are set in open commodity markets. Thus changes in oil supply or demand anywhere tend to affect prices everywhere. Global price changes, therefore, impact our nation regardless of how much oil we produce domestically. Consider Canada, for example. Even though Canada produces more oil than it consumes, its citizens still pay the global price.
For both individual drivers and the nation more broadly, plug-in electric vehicles help break oil dependence, reducing exposure to price volatility, keeping more money here at home (see economic savings), undercutting unfriendly foreign regimes, and supporting American businesses, while also benefiting the environment (see environmental benefits).
U.S. Energy Information Administration