Anyone who drives has noticed that the price of gasoline has started rising again. Less than $2.50 a gallon just a couple of weeks ago, the price has surpassed the $2.75 mark in many locations.

Yesterday, crude oil jumped to past $80 per barrel. Whenever the price of crude goes up, so does the price of gasoline.

One thing the Obama administration has failed to realize is that we are being held captive by our oil imports.

There's no way our economy can recover under the present energy scenario. Any sign of improvement in our economic climate has fuel prices rising, which erases all gains.

Accrding to the Energy Information Administration, in Jan. 1989, the U.S. imported nearly 256-million barrels of crude oil and petroleum. Twenty years later, in Jan. 2009, imports totaled over 408 million barrels.

Imagine the dilemma we'd have today during an oil embargo like the one in 1973.

For those too young to remember in 1973, members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries proclaimed an oil embargo in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur war.

OAPEC declared it would limit or stop oil shipments to the United States and other countries if they supported Israel in the conflict.

The embargo lasted until March 1974. It created backups several blocks long at service stations. People waited hours in line to fill their cars with gas.

Today it would be a lot worse.

Consider that the U.S. imported over 2 million barrels of oil per day in July from Canada, over 1 million barrels per day from Saudi Arabia during the month, and would you believe? some 267,000 barrels per day in July from Russia.

We need to continue to utilize our own resources such as coal and even nuclear energy for whatever usage we can, including electrical power. Of course we have to find alternative energy sources, but we can't afford to wait.

We have to encourage drilling for our own natural gas and petroleum. We also must make cars more gas efficient.

During World War II, fuel rations were imposed which today would be impossible to heed.

Even with rationing, an international crisis could potentially bring America to its knees. It's time our political leaders realize this.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com