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Are US gas lines gone -- perhaps forever? For five years, the US has used less and less energy to produce more and more goods. That breaks a long-time pattern, notes Prof. Robert Z. Aliber, chairman of the University of Chicago's Committee on Public Policy Studies.

Aliber predicts "the gas lines are forever behind us." Smaller cars mean that US gasoline use has probably passed its all-time peak. And US success in producing more with less energy is being matched or bettered in other industrial countries.

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All this could mean that OPEC oil exports may decline, and OPEC's ability to impose dramatic price hikes may be broken.

Washington sees it differently. Carter officials note that the recession has been mostly responsible for falling energy use.m

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