As you can tell by now, the primary point of this series is for us to understand the present oil and gasoline situation, so that we can better know what to do about it. Though demand is slightly dropping, prices are climbing dramatically. Barring any government interference (which is a post for a later time), the only remaining culprit is a dwindling supply.
We have all heard political talk about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but what exactly does that entail? Presently 34% of the U.S. oil supply is from within. That means 66% is imported from other countries. Also, contrary to popular belief, only 21% of that amount comes from the Persian Gulf region. To remove our dependence on foreign oil entirely, we would have to eliminate 2/3 of what we presently use! That means, from here on out, every American drives only 2 days per week, all truckers need to carry the same amount of material but drive 2/3 less miles, and any other use of oil you can think of also needs to be reduced by the same amount.
As you can see, eliminating foreign oil supplies is an impossible task with our present level of demand. However, many are trying to tackle the problem from the other end by increasing domestic supplies, so that foreign nations do not have as much influence on our situation. One of the more popular proposals is drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. A similar effort in Prudhoe Bay (just to the west of ANWR) was quite successful; however, both pose significant environmental concerns. In fact it is this very struggle that has lead to a stagnation in domestic oil supplies. While further drilling might put a dent in prices, all proposed locations raise some environmental concerns. Therefore, our desire to be "green" has left less "green" in our pockets.
So, which issue is more important? Your price at the pump, or the protection of Alaskan Wildlife? This is just one of the questions we must deal with if we are to change our domestic oil situation.