Procrastination ties us to foreign oil fields and global warmingGasoline prices have slid off the front page of most newspapers. They remain an uncomfortable item on many household budgets, affecting the places we drive and the cars we buy.

At an average statewide price of about $2 a gallon - usually higher here near the coast, partly due to transportation costs - the total price of a tank of gas is as much as $5 to $10 higher than a year ago.

Even if gas prices remain somewhat stable in the short term - and that is a big "if" considering attacks against oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and Iraq - our nation's leaders must do more to insulate us from volatile international petroleum markets.

This doesn't mean offshore exploration in the Pacific Northwest or the Arctic, something most experts believe would improve domestic supplies by only a pittance.

Instead of drafting national energy policy in closed-door meetings between the vice president and oil industry officials, we need a thorough and public dialog on shifting the U.S. away from fossil fuels.

Our economic future is not all that's at stake. As long as we procrastinate, we will put ourselves and the rest of the world at risk of climate change and wars devoted to controlling foreign oil fields.

Looking forward to a hot summer of highway vacations and air conditioning, America must begin scanning the horizon for new ways to get around and more efficient ways of harnessing energy.

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