No matter how vocal the drilling supporters become, they still won't be able to address America's acute vulnerability to the whims of the global oil market.
America consumes roughly one-quarter of the world's oil, yet we are home to less than 2 percent of the globe's proven oil reserves. So much for "Drill, Baby, Drill."
Even if we were to drill a hole everywhere in the country that has oil and drain every drop, we'd have enough to last us just about three years. Then our tank would be empty. No bumper sticker will ever change that.
Rather than debate slogans that belie the facts, let's focus on real solutions. Safer, more reliable ways to power our cars and trucks and expand our transportation options exist right now. These technologies are generating enormous oil and cost savings. Now we need to bring them to scale.
Expanding these solutions will not only make our nation more independent but also create jobs and save families money.
Twenty years ago, passenger cars in the United States averaged 21.1 miles per gallon. In 2008, the last year for which the Department of Energy has data, the figure was 22.6 miles per gallon. We can do better.
We know how to build cars that go farther on less fuel. By raising passenger car fuel efficiency average to 60 miles per gallon by 2025, we can reduce our gasoline consumption by 2.8 million barrels of oil by 2030. That alone could cut our oil imports by 25 percent.
Over the next five years, automakers will increase efficient offerings, from today's 23 models of hybrids, to more than 100 conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars.
And by providing consumers greater choices in modes of transportation, we can further dramatically cut our oil use. Public transit already saves America the equivalent of 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year. If we extended mass transit options to more communities, we will generate greater savings -- in oil and money.
Communities are catching on to these benefits. NRDC's Smarter Cities project recently identified the top 15 metropolitan leaders in transportation innovation. Each city offers residents a wide variety of alternatives to driving: extensive bus routes, rail systems, bike paths and carpooling networks.
In Lincoln, Neb., for example, low-income riders pay just $7.50 for unlimited bus rides for a full month. In Bremerton, Wash., an active system of van pools is saving each participant an average of $5,000 each year.
High-speed rail could bring more economic activity, more construction jobs and more modern transit options to many regions in the nation. President Barack Obama is promoting a plan to build and upgrade our rail system, much as President Dwight Eisenhower had done with our highway system in the 1950s.
It's been nearly four decades since President Richard Nixon called on us to break our dependence on foreign oil. It's an addiction his successors also have decried.
Yet our economy, our national security and our very future continue to be held hostage to global prices, supply shocks and political events largely beyond our control.
Let's answer this wake-up call once and for all.
Roland Hwang is the transportation program director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.