- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2009

A key member of the Saudi royal family who headed the country’s intelligence service for 25 years accused both the Obama and Bush administrations Monday of “deceiving” the American people that the U.S. can ever end its dependence on foreign oil.

“You can’t get rid of oil. You can’t get rid of fossil fuels — gas and coal — unless you want to price yourself out of existence,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former ambassador to Washington, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.

“I’d hope that the general public in the United States would be wiser than to be deceived into thinking that the U.S. can ever be energy independent,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, a long-time U.S. ally that has suffered a significant image problem since it was revealed that 15 of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers hailed from the kingdom, is the world’s largest oil exporter. Last year, the U.S. imported from Saudi Arabia 1.5 million barrels of oil a day — more than 11 percent of total imports.

“The U.S. has rising energy needs despite the economic downturn,” Prince Turki said. “If you are going to be paying for wind, electric and solar energy equivalents that cost five or 10 times more than it costs to use oil, you are going to price yourself out of the market. You are going to lose whatever competitiveness you have in your products.”

He noted that the first president to declare the goal of independence of foreign oil was George W. Bush, in his 2006 State of the Union speech, shortly after the prince was named ambassador to the U.S.

“Politicians, when they do that, I think they are misleading their publics,” he said.

During his election campaign last year, President Obama said, “I will set a clear goal as president. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil in the Middle East.”

On its Web site, the White House has outlined a plan how to “eliminate our current imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years.” It includes increasing fuel economy standards, getting one million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015, creating “a new $7,000 tax credit for purchasing advanced vehicles” and establishing a national “low-carbon fuel standard.”

• Nicholas Kralev can be reached at nkralev@washingtontimes.com.

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