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To Drill or Not to Drill? Lessons from Brazil for the U.S. Alternative Energy Debate

In the current election cycle, both political parties are talking about the United States’ addiction to foreign oil, and possible ways to end this dependence. Some suggest encouraging alternative energy, while others suggest drilling off the coast of the United States. Yet, despite all this talk about the dangerous dependence on foreign oil, nothing has changed. The United States still imports over 10 million barrels of oil a day. Maybe it’s time for the United States to take a hint from Brazil. Why Brazil? Brazil is the only economically advanced country which has slashed its dependence on foreign oil. In only a number of years, Brazil has gone from importing almost 80% of its oil to currently importing only 10% of its oil, a feat accomplished through increasing domestic oil production and creating the most advanced alternative energy policy in the world. In fact, 60% of Brazil’s demand for fuel comes from sugar cane ethanol. Professor Marc Weidenmier has dedicated time to determining what the United States can learn from Brazil when it comes to energy policy.
Weidenmier is the inaugural William F. Podlich '66 Associate Professor of Economics, George R. Roberts Fellow, and the director of the Lowe Institute of Political Economy at CMC. A research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research, he is also a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic History, and the Journal of Monetary and Financial History. Professor Weidenmier has published in a vast array of scholarly journals including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Financial Economics. He received his B.A. from the College of William and Mary and received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.