In an earlier post, I calculated (based on 2004 figures — I may update them shortly) that Bush’s "great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025" would involve lowering U.S. oil consumption by 10.5% over 19 years. Not very ambitious.
But it’s worth noting that even there I may be giving Bush too much credit. I’m assuming that he means to "replace" the Middle Eastern oil with alternatives — biofuels, electric cars, hydrogen cars, whatnot.
It’s at least possible, though, that he means to replace Middle Eastern oil with non-Middle Eastern oil. I’m no oil geologist, so I don’t have a good sense of whether this is possible. But it’s not outrageous to think we could cover that amount (10.5% of our oil use) by increasing imports from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and Nigeria — and by increasing domestic production (read: drilling in Alaska and off the coasts). Since Canadian tar sands are under furious production, it’s likely that Canadian imports are going to rise anyway.
So, it’s possible that Bush’s "great goal" could be accomplished without reducing U.S. oil consumption at all. We could, to use his own addiction metaphor, get our fix elsewhere.
But even I’m not that cynical.