Black-Gold Booster

Lee Raymond succeeded as an oilman by staying focused on oil. (In the mid-1980s, he was responsible for unwinding the alternative-energy program at his former company, Exxon.) Now chairman of the National Petroleum Council, Raymond says that petroleum remains plentiful, and a new report he's prepared for the Bush administration argues for developing new sources of oil and gas. But the report also advocates moderating demand, especially by raising fuel efficiency in cars. As for global warming? Raymond, who is also chair of President Bush's alternative-energy committee, says, "No comment." He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Fareed Zakaria. Excerpts:

RAYMOND: Frankly, if the conversation is going to be largely focused on global warming, that's not really where I'm going to go. The National Petroleum Council's study says, on the question of global warming, if policymakers conclude that actions should be taken, that would force, likely, a change in the energy mix and would force higher costs of energy.

The notion of energy independence in this country may sound attractive to Americans, because Americans tend to think they can divorce themselves from the rest of the world, but the United States can't be [truly] independent. We are part of the worldwide system. This notion that people have that "we're going to stop importing crude oil from Saudi Arabia"—facts are, [wherever you buy from] in effect you're still importing Saudi crude oil, because the Saudi crude oil is in the world pool.