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New Call for Reducing US Dependence on Foreign Oil

A group of leading U.S. businessmen and former top military commanders has called on the White House and Congress to reduce America's dependence on oil from overseas, a move it says is necessary for the country's national security. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel narrates for producer Zulima Palacio.

In a recently released report, the non-profit Energy Security Leadership Council says the United States must significantly improve the nation's energy security by taking a series of steps to decrease the country's reliance on foreign oil.

The co-chairman of the group, Frederick Smith, who is president of the FedEx Corporation, says even a minor disruption of the world's oil supply would have grave consequences for the American economy.

"Other than perhaps nuclear proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, there is no greater threat to the security of the United States and our economic security, than our continuing dependence on imported petroleum."

The report says because of instability throughout much of the oil-producing world a supply crisis is likely in the coming years. The council says even a four percent shortfall in global oil delivery would drive the price of petroleum to $120 a barrel, about double the current price.

Co-chairman Frederick Smith says competition for energy resources from other rapidly growing economies puts even more pressure on supply and demand.

"At the same time as our energy dependence has increased, new emerging economies, like China and India, have put significant demands on the world's petroleum supplies and these supplies are increasingly found in unstable parts of the world."

The panel is recommending legislation to strengthen fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. It also says Congress should pass new laws increasing the availability of alternate fuel sources and should ease restrictions for off-shore domestic oil exploration.

The group endorsing the recommendations includes a number of former military leaders, such as retired Admiral Gregory Johnson, who was the commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe. "The single most important thing we can do in terms of energy security: all the naval forces in the world are not going to solve this problem, and the only way that we can really provide true energy security in the 21st century for our nation is to get much more serious about reducing demand and increasing the diversity of supply."

In bringing together representatives of the business community and retired senior military officers, the council says it intends to break what it describes as a lengthy stalemate on energy policy.

The council acknowledges it will take years to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. In the meantime, it says, a comprehensive energy policy is needed to improve America's economic and national security.