What can you buy for $116 billion? When it comes to imported oil, not all that much actually. $116 billion is the amount the United States has spent on imported oil since January 1, 2011. That’s right, the cost of all that oil – or rather the amount of money we are sending to foreign economies because we are not producing enough energy here at home – adds up very quickly.

As part of our new More Energy Now campaign aimed at promoting more domestic energy production, CEA has developed this Imported Oil Counter, keeping a running count of the amount of oil we’ve imported since the start of the year, and the amount it has cost us. Our hope is that this will cast into more graphic relief the magnitude of our dependence on foreign oil.

Of course, as the price of oil goes up, as it has in recent months, the ticker runs faster. There are a few ways to think about this. First, price volatility and price spikes are often the result of foreign sources holding the cards, fixing supply, and effectively setting the price. Second, these higher prices pose a serious threat to our economy on many levels, from eroding individuals’ disposable income to elevating the cost of doing business for small businesses and major corporations alike. When operating costs become really high, these businesses often have no choice but to pass them on to already strapped consumers. Finally, at the very time these conditions are threatening our fragile economic recovery, these higher oil costs mean that we are sending even more cash overseas. This is money that could be better put toward domestic industry, and of course, domestic jobs.

If you are even a little familiar with our national energy policy, you probably know that the amount we spend on imported oil is staggering. Hopefully, this rapidly moving Imported Oil Counter, which shows our foreign oil expenditures growing by $1 million in a matter of minutes, will underscore the urgency of a new and improved policy that supports more domestic production.