You Decide

Produced by KQED

hands grasp at a gasoline pump against a background montage of Africa map and gasoline pricesShould the United States end its dependence on foreign oil?

By Kelly Whalen

Are you sure?

The United States consumes more oil than any other nation in the world, and about 60 percent of it is imported. Record-high oil prices and growing frustrations over U.S. foreign policy’s being driven by oil interests have reignited a years-old debate over whether the United States should be relying on foreign oil. Meanwhile, 2008 presidential candidates, left and right, promise voters “energy independence.”

On one side of the debate, there are the arguments that our dependence on foreign oil has turned the U.S. military into an oil security force (particularly in the Middle East); that we’re so accustomed to bellying up to gas stations that alternative fuels get short-changed; that importing oil negatively affects our economy; and that no matter what the country source, expenditures on any foreign oil support repression and corruption.

But is eliminating foreign oil imports for so-called energy independence strategically smart or even logistically feasible? There are those who maintain that buying and consuming oil helps to maintain our global military and economic prestige. Meanwhile, oil pragmatists argue that reducing our dependence on foreign oil is a chimera: Since the United States has only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves and alternative fuels are in their infancy, cutting back on foreign oil is impossible.

During the course of this activity, we will ask you four times: Should the United States end its dependence on foreign oil? Based on your responses, we will argue the opposite point of view.

Should the United States end its dependence on foreign oil?

Nothing about the issues facing the candidates and American voters in 2008 is black and white. With these You Decide activities, you can explore both sides of an issue, put your own critical thinking to work, and discuss the pros and cons with others. In the end, perhaps you will ask different — and better — questions than those presented here.


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