The Persian Gulf war should finally teach America the danger of relying on foreign oil, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, told a Senate panel Tuesday as debate began on a new national energy policy.

"The recent war in the Persian Gulf should teach us the lesson we should have learned years ago," Garn said."We should have learned from the oil crisis problems of the '70s that it is dangerous to rely so heavily on our Middle Eastern sources of crude oil. Unfortunately, we have never weaned ourselves from our foolish overdependence on foreign oil. How many more crises are we going to tolerate before we wake up and solve the problem?"

Garn's comments came before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as it began what is expected to be several days of meetings to make final changes in President Bush's proposed National Energy Strategy before sending it to the full Senate.

Garn backed proposals from Sens. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo., and Bennett Johnston, D-La., to increase energy conservation by improving fuel economy standards by carmakers.

"It makes no sense to develop vast new supplies of energy if the country continues to waste it through inefficient use," Garn said.

Bush's strategy includes opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, removing red-tape barriers to natural gas pipelines and hydroelectric power and streamlining the approval process for nuclear power plants.

Garn said, "If we fail to enact this legislation, we will not only have missed a golden opportunity to improve our nation's future, we will have foolishly ignored the lessons of history - which teach us the dangers of a perpetual dependence on foreign imports."