At some point we might not have a choice. Oil production is not going to meet our needs forever as sources will run out. The United States needs to keep transitioning to alternative fuel sources for economic and security reasons.
At current consumption levels of liquid fuels, it is not possible for the US to supply its needs with domestic oil production. The peak of US oil production occurred 40 years ago and even with the very best-case scenarios, including all the unexplored areas of the US, the best we will ever be able to do is maintain the status quo, or maybe put a little bump on the continuing decline in domestic production (all the oil on Alaska’s North Slope could not return the US to its maximum production levels of 1970). Most of the 520,000 producing oil wells in the US are declining in production every year, so any and all new discoveries only (barely) go toward making up that loss.
With current technology, and current consumption levels (19.6 million barrels a day), all alternatives combined cannot provide US needs for liquid fuels. At best, the large supplies such as those in oil shales require high sustained prices for oil, and huge up-front investments; furthermore the return is something like 3 barrels out for one barrel of energy invested (compare normal conventional oil at 30 for one). So alternatives will be very costly.
If the US can drastically reduce liquid fuel demand by converting to electric cars, that brings up the need for other imported materials, such as neodymium for motors (all presently mined in China, and all US imports come from China), lanthanum and lithium for batteries (from China and Chile, respectively), and in the short term, mining more coal to generate the huge increase in demand for electricity. Alternatives of course exist for eletricity generation, but none can be scaled up quickly if demand were to increase a lot because of a huge influx of electric cars.
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