Energy Expert Gal Luft Discusses Foreign Oil Independence in Speech
Offering more fuel choice is the only way to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, said Gal Luft, a Bauer College Distinguished Leaders Series speaker who is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based think tank focused on energy security.
Luft, who specializes in strategy, geopolitics, energy security, energy technologies and natural resources, advocates a shift in auto manufacturing so that every U.S. car produced would run on at least two different kinds of fuel. Conversion centers would transform vehicles already on the road.
“Our transportation sector is almost entirely dominated by one source of energy,” he told the crowd gathered for the latest in the DLS series, sponsored by Sequent Energy Management.
“Why is it we are continuing to put on the roads cars that can run only on oil? Wouldn’t it be good if we put cars on the road that could also run on something else?”
The stakes are high, Luft said. Breaking the oil cartel and oil’s monopoly over transportation fuel is the only way to bring about energy independence, insulate our economy against future oil shocks and win the war on radical Islam.
The situation can only worsen, given a backdrop of dwindling supplies and increased demand as hundreds of millions of new vehicles are expected to hit the road with the projected expansion of China’s middle class, he said.
“We are playing a game we cannot win. You have to change the playing field.”
Countries such as Brazil have been far more pro-active than the U.S., Luft said, with 90 percent of their new cars having flex-fuel options for sugar cane-based ethanol and gasoline.
Iran, with its rich oil reserves, is addressing the issue of not being able to meet demand by converting and producing cars that can run on natural gas in addition to constructing new refineries, he said.
America needs to find a solution that includes flex-fuel vehicles, Luft said.
“If we introduce this as an American standard it essentially goes worldwide and has worldwide impact.”
Luft, co-author of “Turning Oil into Salt: Energy Independence Through Fuel Choice,” with Anne Korin, noted that there is historical precedent for moving from one major commodity to another over time.
“We move from one commodity to another, going back to the Bronze Age until today. Up until the 19th century, salt was the world’s most important strategic commodity. Wars were fought over it. Revolutions were begun over it. Roman soldiers were paid with salt.”
“We took a commodity that was very important and we turned it into just another commodity,” he added. “We have to do the same with oil.”
“The road to national security is linked to what happens under the hood of your car.”
Luft is the co-author of “Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century.” He has published numerous studies and articles on security and energy issues in various newspapers and publications, such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Middle East Quarterly, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He appears frequently in the media and has consulted with various think tanks and news organizations worldwide.
Luft has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including Senate Foreign Relations, House International Relations, House Science and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a founding member of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of national security, environmental, labor and religious groups promoting ways to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
He holds degrees in international relations, international economics, Middle East studies and strategic studies and a doctorate in strategic studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.
By Julie Bonnin