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natural gas is not a solution

Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, took issue with the idea that natural gas is a viable alternative to gasoline for transportation, telling the committee that it is a "spectacularly bad idea."

He said that 63% of the world's natural gas reserves are under the control of Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Luft said these countries are in the process of developing a "natural gas cartel" that will rival the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

"We don't want to shift from one resource that we don't have to another resource that we don't have," Luft said. "And we don't want to give, at this time, a gift to Iran."

Luft said that OPEC's reluctance to increase oil production is the "main culprit" behind the energy crisis.

Instead of increasing domestic drilling, Luft urged Congress to promote the use of flex-fuel vehicles.

He argued that alternative alcohol-based fuels such as ethanol and methanol - which can be made from biomass, coal, natural gas and urban trash - will help "break OPEC's monopoly."

Pickens expressed support for the controversial idea of drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas like the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve and the outer continental shelf. But he added that opening these areas to drilling is not a complete solution to the country's energy problems.

Luft also disagreed with this idea. "When we drill more, OPEC drills less," he said.