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A plan for de-oiling the economy

Growing population and growing reliance on vehicular travel and transport – some 172 million new vehicles projected to be sold in this decade in the US.
Even greater demand overall for a mucky substance, petroleum, which has found its way into myriad things we use: in all plastics and styrofoam, in bottles and detergents, denture adhesives and house paints, eating utensils, sweaters and toothpaste, vitamin capsules and thousands more.
The news isn’t good about getting enough of it to meet growing demand. Easy places to find oil have been depleted and basic geology and physics are against when we pry it out of the earth in ever more risky ways, from deep below the ocean floor or through fracturing the bedrock that channels and shields our freshwater sources above.
In the geo-political arena, ever greater cost and uncertainty in securing access to it from politically unstable or unfriendly nations, where its declining remnants are mostly found.
Holding 2.5 percent of global reserves, the U.S. consumes ten times that much of the available oil. A plan for de-oiling our economy, voluntarily and in orderly ways is urgently needed, lest nature, growing foreign competition and market-driven financial costs force one upon us, at risk of social chaos.
In July, with thousands of barrels of crude oil gushing daily from the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy presented such a plan.
The Alliance, a Knoxville based non-profit organization promotes alternative, sustainable energy choices, its work partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
It had issued a challenge when the Gulf disaster happened, for such, commonsense and workable measures as could securely wean us from offshore oil and Persian Gulf imports.
The plan adopted by the Alliance, from many received, was developed by Oceana, an international conservation organization with headquarters in San Francisco. Termed the Oceana Vision, the plan would be implemented over 10 years.
Homes and businesses that now rely on fuel oil for heating would switch to electric-based heating. The one percent share of electricity now produced from petroleum-based fuels would come from other sources.
Ocean-going vessels would slow their travel speed and apply fuel-saving technology retrofits. Roughly two of five (43 percent) of new light duty vehicles — cars, SUVs, trucks — sold before 2020 would be powered with hybrid-electric or fully electric motors, or use diesel fuel; biodiesel concentration would increase slightly over the current mix in biofuels blends.
Modest development of offshore wind parks — 20 Gigawatts of wind power — would supply the additional electricity needed for these changes.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds wind power potential along America’s shores to be 20 times that high. The plan looks doable, indeed and should be seriously considered.
It would cut our oil consumption by almost four million barrels a day. At cost to implement it of $143 billion, it would secure for us a large degree of energy independence, avoid oil purchases estimated to approximate $4.6 trillion, and save our oceans and coastal habitats from oil spill disasters with severe and long-lasting environmental consequences.