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Americans Concerned About US Dependence on Oil Imports

A consumer advocacy group says Americans are alarmed about the U.S. dependence on oil imports and are worried that oil revenue can be used to fund terrorism. The report comes as Americans express their anger over increasingly high gas prices in the United States. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

A new survey by the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit association of 300 consumer groups, shows Americans are not happy about the U.S. dependence on imported oil.

Stephen Brobeck, the group's executive director, says most of the one thousand American adults polled expressed concern about oil imports.

"And by large majorities, they cited not only future gas supplies and prices, but also funding terrorism and unfriendly foreign governments," said Stephen Brobeck. "In fact, 60 percent expressed great concern about oil imports funding terrorism."

President Bush, in his State of the Union speech earlier this year, called on Americans to break what he described as their addiction to imported oil.

The Consumer Federation's research director Mark Cooper elaborated on this point. He said America consumes about 25 percent of the world's crude oil and about 25 percent of the world's gasoline, but has only about three percent of the world's reserves of crude oil.

"Now, one simple way to describe our situation is to point out, by the end of May, we will have consumed a quantity of crude oil that is equal to our total production for the year," said Mark Cooper. "That is, the domestic production is done as of the end of May, and the rest of the year is going to be imports."

He added that his organization believes one of the best solutions to the problem is government-mandated increases in gas mileage for cars.

"Fuel efficiency is the sweet spot of energy policy," he said. "It is the only option that simultaneously contributes to help reduce all three of the major external impacts, economic pain, national security vulnerability and environmental harm."

Congress next month is expected to take up legislation to mandate increases in car fuel efficiency.

Americans are also showing their displeasure with rising gas prices. A man in the state of Wisconsin, the heartland of America, says higher fuel prices are forcing him to rethink his travel plans.

"I walk everywhere now," said a man. "I have been walking for the past six days now. I do not drive in town anymore. I want to, but I do not. I can not. I can not afford it, you know. I got two kids. I can not afford the gas, you know."

Another Wisconsin woman says gas prices are rising faster than her salary.

"It would not be so bad if wages were going up with it, but that is not happening," a woman said.

The American Automobile Association reports the national average price for a gallon of gas reached an all time high Monday, of about $3.18 per gallon or 84 cents per liter. Prices are up about 34 cents a gallon from a month ago.