Recently you may have noticed a particularly deceptive and mischievous commercial on the ol' idiot box. The ad is for little Audi diesels. It begins with a striking visual of a great amount of barrels rolling off an oil tanker and through the streets of America, USA. A solemn voice-over begins: "1.5 million barrels of foreign oil every day... If only one third of us drove clean diesel, we could send it all back."

The intended message for the consumer is obvious: Driving these relatively efficient little cars could completely solve the problem of America's energy dependence. If only one third of us drove efficient diesels, we could send it all back.

But do you see what the sneaky b@$!@*#$ have done here? In fact we Americans currently consume around 19 million barrels of petroleum product each day, and well over half of that comes from outside the country. The EIA has total domestic consumption at 19 and domestic production of crude and natural gas liquids at around 7.500 mbd. Imports are down and domestic production is up, but there's still a huge gulf there -- a lot more than 1.5 mbd.

US PETROLEUM BALANCE SHEET, PREVIOUS FOUR WEEKS

Send it all back? Send all of that small percentage back, sure. But that wouldn't sound too hot in the ad. We import roughly eight times that 1.5 million barrels each day, and four times as much from OPEC alone. Or how about this: Even if every last one of us switched to clean diesel, we'd still be totally dependent on foreign oil. That won't help sell mini-Audis or warm too many hearts, but it would be truthful advertising.

 

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