The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Comerford, Executive Director
Hanson, Communications Director
Priorities Project Office:

Energy Independence and the Real Cost of Oil

A new report shows US spends billions to defend access to global energy reserves


According to a new report from National
Priorities Project (NPP), the United States is spending between $97
and $215 billion dollars annually on military action to defend access
to oil and natural gas reserves around the globe. The Military
Cost of Securing Energy
provides a critical analysis of the
military cost of defending U.S. energy concerns overseas. The report
estimates that the military spends up to 30 percent of its annual
budget to secure access to energy resources internationally.

Along with the report,
NPP has released corollary fact sheets on energy consumption and
renewable alternatives (nationally and by state) and published a
web-based quiz to help translate and disseminate these complex
findings. These materials contain information about the various
options for taking action and moving forward with more sustainable
energy planning. The report, facts sheets and quiz can be accessed online here.

report is authored by Dr. Anita Dancs, Asst. Professor of Economics
at Western New England College, with Suzanne Smith, Research Director
at NPP, and Mary Orisich, Research Associate at NPP. They have spent
the past several months analyzing - using two different processes -
the global pursuit of energy by the federal government and the U.S.
military to estimate the amount of money being spent.

"The military budget isn't
broken down by mission or region of the world, so it isn't obvious at
all how many resources are devoted to securing access to and the
transport of energy," says Dr. Dancs. "Because of this, we
developed different sets of assumptions and created two methodologies
to answer the question." Dancs adds that after looking carefully at
the numbers, it became clear that even without considering the Iraq
war, approximately $100 billion of the Department of Defense budget
will be used to secure energy resources in 2009. "We hope that by
publishing these preliminary results, we can start a national
discussion," she says. "Not only about how to calculate these
numbers more precisely, but about the implications of this spending
when the federal government only spends a few billion on renewable
energy and conservation."

"These are
ground-breaking findings, which are particularly relevant in light of
what is happening right now with our economic crisis, climate change,
and the volatile cost of oil," says Jo Comerford, Executive Director of
NPP. "Clearly, the road
to energy independence must take into account the military cost of
securing energy. The U.S. military spends billions of tax
dollars to secure global fossil fuels, dollars that could be used to
develop renewable energy sources that won't ever run out or cause
wars and global conflict. This is news for most people. We're hoping
this information will have a profound impact on public engagement
with the policy-makers of the next administration." Comerford goes
on to say, "the release of this information is also quite timely,
considering the fact that AFRICOM, the U.S. military's latest in a
series of global commands, 'stood up' on October 1st and
was implemented in part because of the profound energy reserves now
known to be on the African continent."

Energy expert and author
Michael Klare (who is also a member of NPP's board of directors),
says this research shows the clear connection between the U.S.
military, national security, and U.S. access to global energy
supplies. "One of the main reasons that our troops are deployed
around the globe is to secure access to energy resources," Klare
says. "This paper shows that, without a doubt, energy security is
tied in with national security and military action. The question that
follows then is, is this a sustainable strategy - both in terms of
the threat of foreign wars and the inevitable cost of human life, and
also in terms of the rapid depletion of resources and concurrent
destruction of the environment and changing climate - and if not,
what do we need to do to change it?" Klare
praised the authors for "their original and probing methodology
that illuminates the ties between U.S. dependence on foreign oil and
U.S. military policy more thoroughly than ever before."

newly released findings fall within the larger context of NPP's
Energy Priorities Project. This work has two distinct goals: to gain
significant funding increases for renewable energy and conservation
measures; and to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and resulting
concomitant military strategies aimed at securing access to global
energy supplies.

can contact the following for comments or interviews:

Dancs, Asst. Professor (primary author) Western
New England College 413-325-1204

Smith, Research Director National
Priorities Project 413-584-9556

Klare, Five Colleges Professor of Peace and World Security Studies Hampshire
College 413-530-2156

Comerford, Executive Director National
Priorities Project 413-584-9556

The National Priorities Project (NPP) is a 501(c)(3) research organization that analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent. Located in Northampton, MA, since 1983, NPP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels. For more information, go to