The Strait of Hormuz is the bottleneck at the southern end of the Persian Gulf through which, in 2011, some 17 million barrels of oil (about 35 percent of the world's seaborne traded oil) flows every day, according to the EIA.
The Strait divides Oman and Iran. Iran has been threatening to close down the Strait of Hormuz in the face of increased pressure to stop its development of nuclear weapons. In April, the U.S. Navy deployed a second Carrier Strike Group to protect the oil coming through the Strait.
A Carrier Strike Group typically consists of one Aircraft Carrier, two Guided Missile Cruisers, two Anti-Aircraft Warships, and one or two Anti-Submarine Destroyers or Frigates. So, this is a little bigger deal than loading up the SUV to go tubing on a summer Sunday afternoon.
Halfway through 2012 we have spent about $223 billion on imported oil. But, that's just the cost of the oil. When you add the amount we are spending every day for things like two Carrier Strike Groups, that cost increases dramatically.
We are producing more oil than at any time in our history and we're still on track to ship about a half trillion dollars off shore in 2012.
We have enough natural gas to last more than 100 years and changing over our national fleet of heavy trucks from diesel to that domestic resource would not only help clean up the air (natural gas produces about a third less greenhouse gasses as diesel or gasoline) but would reduce our need for OPEC oil by about half.
As of last night West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, which is the benchmark, was selling for $86.90 per barrel. That is down from the nearly $110 of a few months ago, and so energy has fallen off the table as an election issue.
It shouldn't. We're spending too much in treasure and blood to protect oil we don't need to import.