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Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and Iraq War in Perspective: America's Voracious Oil Addiction

The US government has now confirmed that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the United States' largest oil spill and perhaps the nation's worst environmental disaster. While poor government oversight and negligence by oil giant BP certainly contributed to the disaster, the fact that the US is drilling over a mile below the surface in one of its most important marine ecosystems is directly related to US consumption of oil: the highest in the world.

In 2007 the United States consumed 20,680,000 barrels (868,500,000 gallons) of oil every day, or approximately 7.5 billion barrels (or 337.5 billon gallons) of oil during the year.

The federal government says that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has currently released approximately 504,000 to 798,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf based on forty one days of leaking: about 2-4 percent of the United States' one day consumption.

Given its huge rate of consumption, the US is also the number one importer of oil in the world. In 2007, two thirds (66.19 percent) of the nation's oil was imported from abroad.

Its desire for oil has also made the US one of the primary importers of oil from Canada's controversial tar sands. In 2009 eight percent of US oil came from the tar sands, yet a recent report shows that number could jump to 20-36 percent by 2030. The tar sands have become infamous for being one of the world's largest industrial sources of greenhouse gases.

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