Nine organizations that in the past have criticized the auto industry and the Bush administration's energy policy for its lack of attention to conservation resumed their campaign in a new form yesterday -- as part of the nascent antiwar movement.

In rhetoric familiar from the Vietnam era, they announced a massive advertising "campaign" and a lobbying effort to oppose what they called President Bush's "war for oil" in the Middle East and get across a message they have been preaching for years to an unresponsive government and an apathetic public: U.S. dependence on imported oil and the American love affair with gas-guzzling cars leave the country "hostage" to events in an unstable part of the world.

"We won't pay the high price of Mideast oil. We won't fight Detroit's war," they pledge in an advertisment scheduled to run in today's New York Times. "Saving energy at home: It's better than losing American lives abroad," the ad says. Television and radio spots asserting that "if every car in America got 35 miles to a gallon, we wouldn't need a single gallon of Mideast oil" have begun airing in Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and New York, campaign organizers said.

Joining forces as the Coalition for Fuel Efficient Transportation, the organization includes such groups as the Center for Auto Safety, Citizen Action, Ralph Nader's Public Citizen and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Jeremy Rifkin, a veteran environmental activist who spoke for the coalition, said the coalition has spent "in excess of $100,000" to prepare its "How High a Price?" campaign, and is prepared to spend "a pretty penny" to enlist political opposition to the U.S. troop deployment, to Bush and to Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), a strong defender of the U.S. auto industry. Dingell is considered a shoo-in for reelection next week, but Rifkin and other coalition members said their effort is directed at galvanizing public support for energy conservation in the longer term.

Demonstrations against the U.S. military buildup in Saudi Arabia have been reported in at least 20 cities, but Rifkin said his group wants to redirect the war, not just oppose it. He said the objective of this "peace initiative" was to persuade the administration and Congress to undertake a "domestic energy war on the home front," consisting chiefly of forcing the automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of their products -- a goal toward which the auto industry says it is working.

Rifkin said the coalition's members "all condemn {Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein" and support nonmilitary efforts to force him to relinquish Kuwait. But one of his coalition partners, Environmental Action executive director Ruth Caplan, said that Kuwait "has no intrinsic reason to exist, except to assure our supply of oil."

The organizers were joined at a news conference here by Paul Dotson, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, who refused to report when his Marine Corps Reserve unit was activated last month. "I will not fight Mr. Bush's war for oil," said Dotson, a corporal. "It's high time we changed our irresponsible way of life . . . we should get our guns out of the Middle East and get our brains into research" on energy conservation.

In response to a question, however, Dotson said he would have refused to be activated for any reason, oil-related or not. He joined the Marines as a teenager because he "bought into" the idea that the military defends American values, but now he thinks otherwise.

The United States imports about half of the 17 million barrels of oil it consumes daily. The idea that the country would be more secure economically and politically is hardly revolutionary, having been endorsed by the Energy Department and virtually all major environmental groups.

Texaco Inc., one of the biggest oil companies and a partner with the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, announced its own media program this week aimed at persuading Americans to use less energy. Texaco said its "multi-million dollar public information campaign" would include newspaper, magazine and broadcast ads and a half-hour public television special.