I applaud the Senate for showing the Nation and the world that this country is ready to deal with an unexpected future energy shortage, through its strong endorsement of the Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan.
I call upon the House of Representatives to place the national interest above narrower interests, as the Senate has done.
Congress required the executive branch to submit a standby rationing plan in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. The plan which the Senate passed was submitted pursuant to that requirement. This is not a plan to achieve mandatory conservation, but is simply a standby measure to permit an orderly distribution of gasoline in the event of a significant shortage. Congress will have the opportunity to pass upon the plan again before it can be implemented.
The plan passed by the Senate creates a national ration reserve to deal with critical national emergencies; a significant State ration reserve of 8 percent to be allocated within States at the discretion of the Governors to deal with special State problems which may occur as a result of severe gasoline shortages; provides for priority allocation of gasoline to critical sectors of the economy, such as farmers; and distributes the balance to owners of registered vehicles based upon historic use of gasoline within the States. This is an efficient and equitable way to distribute gasoline allotments.
State consumption figures would be regularly updated so that in the unexpected event that the standby plan had to be implemented, the latest data would be available.
For reasons of equity, we have limited the gasoline allotments to no more than three vehicles per household.
We do not expect that we will ever need to use this plan, but, as with our military forces, we would be foolhardy not to be prepared should such a need ever arise.
Defeat of this plan would leave this country vulnerable and defenseless against a supply interruption. The Government would require 6 to 8 months to develop, pass, and implement a new plan—time we could ill-afford during an energy crisis.
I urge the Members of the House of Representatives to recognize the national interest and to send a message to the country and the rest of the world that this country will not be helpless if an unexpected shortage develops.