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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of  October 10 - 16, 2001


A time for fuel independence

As the survivor of a Midwestern flood sagely observed while ruefully looking over water-soaked debris that was his home, "It’s a shame no one talks about flood control when the sun shines."

The same could be said of America’s love affair with petroleum: So long as plenty spews from pumps, why talk or worry about conservation and alternatives?

But talk and worry we must.

The United States is in a war that, by all accounts, will continue for years, involving indescribable threats to the U.S. homeland from a cunning enemy using unconventional attacks on random targets of opportunity.

One crippling tactic would be to interrupt petroleum supplies needed to keep the highly mobile American society and industry humming.

Not since World War II has a U.S. president had such a rich opportunity to change the nation’s gluttonous appetite for petroleum as now, when the entire U.S. way of life is being put on a war footing and Americans are adjusting to realities of their new lifestyle.

Just as U.S. industry in World War II developed revolutionary synthetics and industry later produced unimaginable products for space flight, industry is fully capable of transforming alternative fuel and power sources from experimental ideas to mass-produced substitutes for petroleum.

But industry needs a push from the federal government, plus massive funds — the sort of maximum impetus provided World War II’s Manhattan Project to produce the atomic bomb, and that led to spin-off sciences now benefiting medicine and electrical generation.

The United States is still far too dependent on imported petroleum. According to American Petroleum Institute statistics for July, 56 percent of U.S. crude oil was imported, of which 25 percent came from Persian Gulf states.

Loyal as Persian Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia have been to U.S. oil needs, one of the announced objectives of Muslim terrorist Osama bin Laden is to bring down the Saudi monarchy, which stripped him of his citizenship.

The United States should no more blindly bank on Persian Gulf oil states remaining stable and willing to supply U.S. oil needs than it blindly believed before Sept. 11 it was immune from unspeakable acts of terror.

And how foolish to even argue that the national strategic oil reserves and new fields in Alaska would be sufficient to oil the wheels of U.S. life.

The time for alternative fuels — hydrogen, solar, ethanol and other synthetics yet to be discoveredľ has arrived.

President Bush has been ardent about spending upwards of $60 billion for outer space missile defense, a plan now useless in dealing with the enemy confronting our strategists.

Diverting all or most of that funding to alternative fuels development would yield far more lasting benefits for oil-addicted America’s strategic security.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.