The United States military spends about $81 billion a year to protect oil supplies around the world and keep fossil fuels flowing into American gas stations, according to new analysis.
Securing America's Future Energy, a think tank that advocates for reducing U.S. dependence on oil, released the study the same day President Donald Trump claimed that some Middle Eastern countries are pushing up crude prices while benefiting from U.S. military protection.
@realDonaldTrump: We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!
The $81 billion price tag is likely "very conservative" and doesn't include the full cost of the 15-year war in Iraq, according to SAFE, whose CEO Robbie Diamond also leads the pro-electric car group the Electrification Coalition.
The estimate pencils out to 16-20 percent of the Defense Department's annual base budget, showing the nation's oil habit has a direct military cost, SAFE said. It also means the government subsidizes the cost of oil to the tune of $11.25 per barrel and the price of transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel by 28 cents a gallon.
Americans "spend somewhere around $3 per gallon, but we're really paying a lot more because of all the operations in the Middle East," said retired General Charles Wald, vice chairman and senior adviser at consulting firm Deloitte and a member of SAFE's Energy Security Leadership Council.