Obama’s plan to reduce oil imports is doomed by immigration and population growth

President Obama, probably in response to Republican criticism of rising gasoline prices, recently announced a plan to reduce oil imports by a third over the next ten years by encouraging more domestic oil production, developing alternative fuels, and by increasing fuel efficiency of motor vehicles.

This is what American presidents do. They announce plans to reduce oil imports. But the planned reductions never happen. Oil imports, and our dependence on oil imports, continue to increase.

How can oil imports be reduced in the face of rising demand from an expanding population? The 2010 census shows that the U.S. population increased by 27 million since 2000, to 309 million from 282 million. The Pew Research Center projects U.S. population in 2050, if we do nothing about it, will be 438 million, an increase of 129 million, or about 42%, from 2010.

A 42% population increase means that even if we succeed in increasing domestic oil production, developing alternative fuels, and increasing fuel efficiency, we’re still going to have to import more, not less oil. The Pew Research Center study suggests that as much as 82% of future U.S. population growth will be attributable to immigration, including the descendents of immigrants, after any given date, and only 18% of U.S. population growth will be attributable to the natural growth of the starting baseline population. Official population estimates suggest that as much as one-third of the foreign-born, immigrant population of the U.S. is in fact undocumented and present in violation of U.S. law.

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So if we really want to reduce oil imports by one-third, we should be planning on limiting future population growth. We can do that first by reducing the illegal alien population through greater enforcement of U.S. immigration laws both at the border and within our borders. And then we need to discuss and reconsider the appropriate level for legal immigration to the U.S., which is currently the most generous in the world.

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