How to Cut US Oil Consumption in Half by 2035

Fuel economy measures and green building technologies readily available today could cut US oil consumption in half over the next 20 years, saving an estimated 11 million barrels every day by 2035, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The Half the Oil Plan slashes oil use simply by continuing to make cars, trucks, airplanes and buildings more efficient.

In the process of doing so, the US would save billions of dollars, ease serious environmental problems and resolve many public health issues, says UCS. It would also make the US a world leader in transportation technology.

Inaction, on the other hand, means the US will keep spending nearly $2 billion daily on oil that is getting progressively dirtier and riskier to produce and refine. By 2035, the nation’s daily dependence on oil could balloon to 22 million barrels.

"Doing nothing also means ceding US leadership on energy efficiency, electric cars, better biofuels and innovative transportation systems to those nations willing to invest in smart solutions," says UCS. 

Measures the Obama administration has already adopted cut oil consumption by an estimated 2.6 million barrels daily by 2025, saving people $120 billion, even after accounting for investments in improved vehicle technology. That’s the  equivalent of taking more than 70 million cars and light trucks off the road for a year.

Those measures are the doubling of fuel economy standards –  one of the signature accomplishments of Obama’s first term.

"If the President expands on the kind of steps his administration has already taken, he could meet his 2.5 million barrels per day oil savings goal by about 2020, five years earlier," says UCS. "And if we keep up the pace, including medium and heavy-duty truck standards that double fuel economy; setting similar standards for planes, trains, and ships; and ramping up investments in electric cars, better biofuels, and more efficient ways to move people and goods and fuel our homes and industry, we could cut the use of oil and other petroleum products in the U.S. down to 10-11 million barrels per day in about 20 years."

Here’s what UCS is advocating for, along with the amount of oil that would be saved daily by 2035 (in barrels):

  • Double the fuel efficiency of new cars and light trucks by 2025 (4 million barrels)
  • Double the fuel efficiency of most commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, buses and big rigs by 2030 (1 million)
  • Make planes, trains, and ships more fuel-efficient (500,000)
  • Retrofit buildings to use less energy, make boilers more efficient, and adopt substitutes for oil to heat our homes and manufacture goods (2 million)
  • Unleash the full potential of electric vehicles so more than 40% of new vehicles sold by 2035 run on electricity instead of oil (1.5 million)
  • Produce 40 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels from non-food sources such as perennial grasses and waste products, now that commercial capacity is increasing (1.5 million)
  • Expand transportation options through new transit systems and mixed-use development (1.5 million)

Here’s a video explanation of the "Half the Oil" plan:

Read the details of the strategy:

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