We must kick our Mideast oil habit

By Jim DiPeso

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: The following letter to the editor was published on December 8, 2002 in the Dallas Morning News and on December 9, 2002 in the Detroit News.



One would think an administration committed to protecting America’s freedom and security would give higher priority to increasing fuel efficiency and diversifying energy sources. Oil is the drug that unpopular, autocratic Middle Eastern regimes use to hold back modernization, bribe extremists and keep themselves in power. Oil is the glue that binds America into tar baby alliances with such regimes, stirring up resentment that terrorists feed upon.

Yet the Bush administration, obtusely, has resisted strong fuel efficiency measures to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Recently, the administration leaked a proposal that would require auto manufacturers to boost the fuel efficiency of sport-utility vehicles to only 22.2 miles per gallon by 2007. The requirement would be small beer compared to what is practically achievable. Even Detroit automakers, who wail and gnash their teeth at the mere mention of higher fuel efficiency standards, promised in 2000 to increase the SUV fuel efficiency by 25 percent by 2005. Congress is no better. Last year, the Senate rejected a sensible, bipartisan bill to boost fuel efficiency standards to 36 mpg by 2015.

Ending our co-dependent relationships in the Middle East will help root out terrorism. The key is reducing oil consumption. It’s time for the administration and Congress to fund an aggressive, Manhattan Project-type program to make hydrogen and other alternative fuel technologies widely available.

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