Sunday, July 20, 2008

VMT & Foreign Oil

So watching the Pickens commercial below gave me a thought. He was discussing dependence on foreign oil and showed some percentages of how much we import. So I went to the data. In terms of foreign oil I went to the Energy Information Administration and pulled an excel chart for historic crude oil imports and production. Since its monthly I averaged 1970,1990, and 2005. T Boone uses current 2008 to say 70% but the most recent transportation data is from 2005. So foreign crude imports went from 12% to 44% to 66% of the total U.S. supply.

Then I went to the BTS and found the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) charts and put the totals together. A word of caution from the last chart I put up. Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but I thought this was interesting and more relative. If anything I hope it starts some discussion on how this oil dependence is related to our auto dependence.
Perhaps its also related to this: Spending on highways over transit from PIRG.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that our transportation policy has led us to this predicament. I believe we all knew this, but its always good to have charts right? Thoughts?


Daniel Hall said...

I am not willing to go check the background data for that PIRG chart but I suspect that when it is entitled "Cumulative" that is in fact what it means. If so that is sloppy presentation and poor chart-making (although at least accurate titling). Yes, highways get way, way, way more money than transit but presenting the data this way makes it much harder to tell what recent trends are like because your view is so distorted by all the historical data. Of course, coming from PIRG this is not too surprising.

Alon Levy said...

The rise in crude oil imports is also due to the decline in US oil production...

arcady said...

I think the chart is showing exactly what it's supposed to show: regardless of recent trends in transit spending, highways have a HUGE head start. Meaning that to really give transit a fair change, we need give transit more than its "fair share", to help overcome the results of highways getting all the funding for so many decades. Also it goes to show just where the massive government influence and "social engineering" has been directed.

Of course, in reality the situation is quite a bit more complicated than a simple graph like this, with factors like private investment in transit and relative lifespans of infrastructure and so on, but I think the basic idea is sound.