A new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute suggests that we wean ourselves from foreign oil, not by drilling in Alaska or the Rocky Mountains, but by using less of it. Titled U.S. Energy Security Facts, the report says energy efficiency saved Americans about $365 billion in 2000. Those savings are our nation’s biggest and fastest-growing energy “source,” equaling two-fifths of our annual supply.

But, according to author Amory Lovins, we could do better: If the U.S. had run with the efficiency measures implemented in the late 1970s and early 1980s — when oil use and imports dropped even as our economy grew — we could have eliminated all Persian Gulf oil imports by 2002. Instead, the federal government abandoned efficiency increases, such as higher mile-per-gallon requirements for automobiles, and Americans have continued to rely on oil from the Gulf.

A new ad campaign by the Sierra Club also highlights this failure, pointing out that on Ford’s 100th anniversary, its average vehicle is now less efficient than its first Model T.

For a copy of Lovins’ report, visit www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid533.php or call the Rocky Mountain Institute at 970-927-3851.