Brazil's Lesson for U.S. Energy Security

March 22, 2011 – New York – Brazil today is energy independent, while the U.S. imports two-thirds of its oil, says AJC Executive Director David Harris in his national radio commentary. “We have a lot to learn,” says Harris, “unless, that is, we always want to be held hostage to the next crisis in oil-exporting countries like Libya.”

The AJC weekly radio messages are broadcast on the CBS radio network, before The Osgood File. All AJC radio commentaries since 2001 are available at www.ajc.org/radiocommentary.

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The full text of this week’s commentary follows:

As oil is constantly in the news, consider this:

In the 1970s, the U.S. imported about one-third of our oil needs.

Brazil then imported nearly 80 percent of its oil.

Now fast forward.

Today, despite calls by successive U.S. presidents for greater energy security, we import nearly two-thirds of our oil.

Brazil, meanwhile, has become energy independent.

Why the startling difference?

Above all, national will.

There’s been precious little courage and foresight here.

In Brazil, by contrast, the country made energy security a top priority.

It’s used highly-efficient, sugar-based ethanol. And just about all vehicles there are adapted for flex fuels

It’s also explored and found offshore oil, while developing renewable energy sources.

I’m just back from Brazil. What they’ve achieved is impressive. We have a lot to learn.

Unless, that is, we always want to be held hostage to the next crisis in oil-exporting countries like Libya.

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This is David Harris of AJC.