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Monday, May 12, 2008

The slow road to energy independence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush shocked world energy producers in 2006 when he pledged to slash America's reliance on Middle East oil.

But today one of every two barrels of oil consumed in the United States still comes from foreign suppliers like Saudi Arabia, and that picture is not likely to change much through 2030.

With Bush entering the final months of his presidency, the challenge of loosening the vise of U.S. import reliance will fall to his successors.

Bush entered the White House in 2001 as a Texas oil man with several energy experts on his Cabinet -- Vice President Dick Cheney was chief executive of oilfield services company Halliburton Co (HAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice served on Chevron Corp's (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) board of directors until early 2001.

As oil prices rose ever higher, Bush sought to distance himself from the industry, insisting that oil companies did not need tax breaks from Uncle Sam with crude oil prices soaring.

But he has been unable to silence attacks from Democrats and others that his administration is cozy with Texas oil giants like Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which reported the highest-ever profit for a U.S. company in the fourth quarter of 2007.

A DRY HOLE

One of Bush's first acts as president was to convene a secret panel of industry executives to help draft an energy policy blueprint.
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