From a statement by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.) before the U.S. Senate last month:

The crisis in the Middle East has many troubling aspects. One of the most troubling is that the stakes are so high because of this nation's dependence on Middle East oil. This dependence is intolerable. ...

The tragedy of the current crisis is that we had advance warning of the threat, but throughout the 1980s the danger was ignored. Incredible though it seems, instead of preparing for this day, the {Reagan/Bush} administration did everything it could to dismantle our energy policy.

Programs to develop renewable energy were cut. The administration sought persistently to slash fossil energy research. Efforts to develop synthetic fuels were subverted and then dismantled. Conservation measures were abandoned, and the administration even sought to repeal automobile fuel economy requirements.

Why did this happen? Because the administration lived in a fool's paradise of cheap oil. Yes, you could buy a barrel of oil for $16, but {the administration} ignored the additional charges for which we would all be billed later -- $1 billion a month, assuming no shooting, to support a vast military operation on a far-off continent. And there is no way to properly measure the value of the lives of thousands of our soldiers sent to the desert to protect the flow of oil.

Fortunately, this great nation was blessed with enormous resources, which we have only begun to tap. We have centuries worth of energy supply in the coal buried in the mountains of West Virginia and other states. We still have substantial supplies of natural gas. We have the prairies of the Middle West, with endless fields of grain that can be turned into fuel. We have potentially limitless renewable resources of sun and wind and water.