Article | 2004

How America Can Free Itself of Oil—Profitably

By Amory Lovins

In this article from Fortune magazine, Amory Lovins argues that it will cost less to replace the oil needed by the U.S. than to buy it. He also argues that within the next few decades the U.S. can end its oil dependence. Lovins argues that by applying the past two decades of technological progress, it will cost less to displace all the oil that the U.S. will need than to buy that oil. Oil’s market price leaves out many of its true economic, military, and environmental costs, but even if those externalized burdens were zero, completely displacing oil would still be profitable for the U.S. economy. Achieving this requires four steps: doubling the efficiency of using oil; coordinating public policies and business strategies to speed the adoption not just of superefficient light vehicles, but also of superefficient heavy trucks and airplanes; turning to modern biofuels to replace another 20% of U.S. oil needs; and using established, highly profitable efficiency techniques to save half the projected 2025 use of natural gas.