Courtesy Reuters

A Plan for Energy Independence

I Believe the United States is facing a national energy emergency. It arises from our extravagant and wasteful use of energy and from a shift in the sources of fuels. Per capita consumption is three times that of Western Europe, and we may ask ourselves whether our greater use enriches the quality of life by any such margin. Our cars are twice as heavy and use twice as much fuel as European cars which run about the same mileage each year, and the ratio is getting worse because of the sharp drop in fuel economy on recent models of American cars, owing to emission controls and air conditioners. We keep our houses and buildings too hot and use large amounts of fuel in air-conditioning everything. We have not given a thought to fuel conservation and efficiency since the days of rationing in World War II-an era which only 30 percent (those over 45) of the population can remember. These are some of the reasons why with six percent of the world's population the United States uses 33 percent of the world's energy-and why Europe and Japan are unlikely to be sympathetic to our plight as we ask them to share with us their traditional supply sources in the Middle East.

The costs and perils of dependence upon Middle East nations around the Persian Gulf were eloquently stated by James Akins of the State Department in the last issue of this journal.[i] His analysis of the expected scale of payments to Middle East countries and the inability of the largest producer, Saudi Arabia, to absorb or use a significant fraction of these payments for internal purposes underscores the perils of open-ended dependence upon these nations for our oil. The most critical aspects of the national energy emergency are the shift to such dependence and the enormous foreign-exchange drain it must progressively entail by the late 1970s alone. Recent "symbolic" interruptions by some Middle East countries, in protest against U.S. policy toward Israel, may

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