The president in his State of the Union address called for the replacement of 75 percent of the U.S. imports from the Middle East with ethanol and other energy sources by 2025.
"Every administration since the early 1970s has struggled with the issue of rising oil imports and the right mix of policies to deal with them," noted energy analyst Daniel Yergin told The New York Times.
Bush's call upset the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, the main Middle East supplier to the United States. In an interview with the Times, Prince Turki al-Faisal indicated a clarification may be needed.
Politically too, both parties on Capitol Hill showed a lack of enthusiasm, the Times reported. Democrats said Bush had opposed cuts in foreign oil in last year's energy bill, while Republicans questioned the practicality of relying on ethanol and other alternatives.
Scientists say ethanol and other fuels are years from widespread use. Some economists say a sizeable increase in the gasoline tax would provide incentives to drive more efficient vehicles and to manufacturers to make innovative cars.