There's plenty of bad news to fret over as we start 2002 but so far, U.S. consumers don't have too much to kick about when it comes to the cost of energy.
Analysts are forecasting that energy costs will not dramatically increase despite some production cutbacks by Russia and OPEC early this year. Supplies of oil will still be greater than demand and that's good news for the U.S.
Gasoline prices in the U.S. are expected to be at about $1 a gallon for the national average with heating oil in the 80-cent to $1-per gallon range.
The down side of this pleasant economic scenario is that favorable oil prices take the pressure off the federal government to come up with ways to wean the U.S. off its dependence on Mideastern oil.
As author David Halberstam noted on a recent C-Span broadcast there are an awful lot of people in the Mideast who don't like America for one reason or another. There are also certain Mideastern nations who claim to be our allies but whose loyalty is questionable when the going really gets tough.
Taking a long-range look at the future the U.S. should be dispatching some of its best minds to coming up with solutions that will lessen our dependence on Mideast oil.
The solutions may involve a combination of energy conservation, responsible exploration of our own energy resources and development of alternative energy sources.
It's time to start working on these issues. Now. If we wait until the next Mideast political crisis it may be too late.
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