There’s been a lot of talk about oil this summer. Most of it bad. Devastating, record-setting leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River underscored, once again, the danger of our dependence on crude. Seductively efficient and still relatively cheap, oil provides nearly 40 percent of America’s power. But it’s also a finite resource that presents a very real threat to our environment, economy, security, and health. Given the growing risks and the shrinking reserves, there must be loads of people out there — experts from government, corporations, academia, and the like — hatching plans for a cleaner, safer, post-oil world, right? We asked our expert panel to explain where we are in oil’s troubled lifespan, and whether and how we’ll ever wean the world off its current fossil fuel of choice.

Listen to audio from the panel discussion. Or click here to read the edited transcript.

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Lisa MargonelliLisa Margonelli
Director of Energy Policy Initiative at the New America Foundation
“The problem with the oil policy process is we expect price to change demand and then we artificially protect price. We have made a non-responsive market, and we can’t develop the political willpower as a result.”

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Severin Bornstein.Severin Bornstein
Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley

“I wouldn’t be on board with the idea that oil is in its decline. In reality, if we don’t care about environmental factors or energy security issues we can continue to consume oil or something equivalent to oil for hundreds of years.”


Geoff Styles.Geoffery Styles
Former Texaco executive and now Managing Director of GSW Strategy Group

“Oil is simultaneously a huge source of energy and the best energy storage medium we have — and it’s relatively cheap. We can’t beat that. We can, with alternatives, only hope to match it.”


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Get Off Your Ass Alert: If you want to reduce your oil footprint, try taking the Take Back the Tap pledge, and buy a reusable water bottle; every year, the production of disposable plastic bottles uses enough oil to fuel a million cars.