Step on The Gas, Pay the Price

As the U.S. gulps more oil and discovers less, imports take off

"We're really living with a false sense of security," warns George Mitchell, an independent Houston oilman. "We're heading for deep trouble." What provokes Mitchell's dire prediction is the shriveled condition of the U.S. oil-drilling industry, which he believes has made the country seriously vulnerable to a future energy emergency. "We're losing ground faster than we might have predicted even a few months ago," he says. Adds John Watson, another Houston oilman: "All the people have left, rigs have been dismantled, the financial industry has turned its back on oil and gas. It would take an all-out crusade to come back."

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