ENERGY: Mission Impossible

Project Independence, the grand scheme started by Richard Nixon in 1973 to free the U.S. from dependence on foreign producers of energy, may well be Mission Impossible. That is the inescapable conclusion of a new 500-page study by the Federal Energy Administration. Not that the FEA says so outright; the report, called The National Energy Outlook, soberly presents computer models of the different options facing the nation between now and 1985. But not one of the seven basic "alternative scenarios" offered would result in total independence from the oil-producing and -exporting countries.

The FEA'S key assumption is that the OPEC...