Nothing the United States can do in energy policy is more important than an mpg increase. Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and, until last week, George W. Bush had all refused to face the issue of America's low-mpg vehicles, which are the root of U.S. dependency on Persian Gulf oil and a prime factor in rising U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.First of all, we're not particularly dependent upon Persian Gulf oil. We get most of our oil from the Americas: Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, etc. In the 12 months ended October 06, only 16% of our petroleum imports and 11% of our total petroleum usage came from the Persian Gulf. That's slightly less than we imported from Canada, alone.
Nor can we hurt the Persian Gulf countries through conservation. If we do succeed in conserving enough oil to effect the global market, the effect will be a cut in the price of oil. The Persian Gulf nations, however, are the low-cost suppliers of oil. A sufficient decrease in the price of oil will only shift consumption towards the Persian Gulf and away from the high price producers, such as Canada.