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Richard Nixon: Special Message to the Congress on Energy Policy.
Richard Nixon
128 - Special Message to the Congress on Energy Policy.
April 18, 1973
Public Papers of the Presidents
Richard Nixon<br>1973
Richard Nixon
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To the Congress of the United States:

At home and abroad, America is in a time of transition. Old problems are yielding to new initiatives, but in their place new problems are arising which once again challenge our ingenuity and require vigorous action. Nowhere is this more clearly true than in the field of energy.

As America has become more prosperous and more heavily industrialized, our demands for energy have soared. Today, with 6 percent of the world's population, we consume almost a third of all the energy used in the world. Our energy demands have grown so rapidly that they now outstrip our available supplies, and at our present rate of growth, our energy needs a dozen years from now will be nearly double what they were in 1970.

In the years immediately ahead, we must face up to the possibility of occasional energy shortages and some increase in energy prices.

Clearly, we are facing a vitally important energy challenge. If present trends continue unchecked, we could face a genuine energy crisis. But that crisis can and should be averted, for we have the capacity and the resources to meet our energy needs if only we take the proper steps--and take them now.

More than half the world's total reserves of coal are located within the United States. This resource alone would be enough to provide for our energy needs for well over a century. We have potential resources of billions of barrels of recoverable oil, similar quantities of shale oil and more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Properly managed, and with more attention on the part of consumers to the conservation of energy, these supplies can last for as long as our economy depends on conventional fuels.

In addition to natural fuels, we can draw upon hydroelectric plants and increasing numbers of nuclear powered facilities. Moreover, long before our present energy sources are exhausted, America's vast capabilities in research and development can provide us with new, clean and virtually unlimited sources of power.

Thus, we should not be misled into pessimistic predictions of an energy disaster. But neither should we be lulled into a false sense of security. We must examine our circumstances realistically, carefully weigh the alternatives--and then move forward decisively.


Over 90 percent of the energy we consume today in the United States comes from three sources: natural gas, coal and petroleum. Each source presents us with a different set of problems.

Natural gas is our cleanest fuel and is most preferred in order to protect our environment, but ill-considered regulations of natural gas prices by the Federal Government have produced a serious and increasing scarcity of this fuel.

We have vast quantities of coal, but the extraction and use of coal have presented such persistent environmental problems that, today, less than 20 percent of our energy needs are met by coal and the health of the entire coal industry is seriously threatened.

Our third conventional resource is oil, but domestic production of available oil is no longer able to keep pace with demands.

In determining how we should expand and develop these resources, along with others such as nuclear power, we must take into account not only our economic goals, but also our environmental goals and our national security goals. Each of these areas is profoundly affected by our decisions concerning energy.

If we are to maintain the vigor of our economy, the health of our environment, and the security of our energy resources, it is essential that we strike the right balance among these priorities.

The choices are difficult, but we cannot refuse to act because of this. We cannot stand still simply because it is difficult to go forward. That is the one choice Americans must never make.

The energy challenge is one of the great opportunities of our time. We have already begun to meet that challenge, and realize its opportunities.


In 1971, I sent to the Congress the first message on energy policies ever submitted by an American President. In that message I proposed a number of specific steps to meet our projected needs by increasing our supply of clean energy in America.

Those steps included expanded research and development to obtain more clean energy, increased availability of energy resources located on Federal lands, increased efforts in the development of nuclear power, and a new Federal organization to plan and manage our energy programs.

In the twenty-two months since I submitted that message, America's energy research and development efforts have been expanded by 50 percent.

In order to increase domestic production of conventional fuels, sales of oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf have been increased. Federal and State standards to protect the marine environment in which these leases are located are being tightened. We have developed a more rigorous surveillance capability and an improved ability to prevent and clean up oil spills.

We are planning to proceed with the development of oil shale and geothermal energy sources on Federal lands, so long as an evaluation now underway shows that our environment can be adequately protected.

We have also taken new steps to expand our uranium enrichment capacity for the production of fuels for nuclear power plants, to standardize nuclear power plant designs, and to ensure the continuation of an already enviable safety record.

We have issued new standards and guidelines, and have taken other actions to increase and encourage better conservation of energy.

In short, we have made a strong beginning in our effort to ensure that America will always have the power needed to fuel its prosperity. But what we have accomplished is only a beginning.

Now we must build on our increased knowledge, and on the accomplishments of the past twenty-two months, to develop a more comprehensive, integrated national energy policy. To carry out this policy we must:

--increase domestic production of all forms of energy;

--act to conserve energy more effectively;

--strive to meet our energy needs at the lowest cost consistent with the protection of both our national security and our natural environment;

--reduce excessive regulatory and administrative impediments which have delayed or prevented construction of energy-producing facilities;

--act in concert with other nations to conduct research in the energy field and to find ways to prevent serious shortages; and

--apply our vast scientific and technological capacities--both public and private--so we can utilize our current energy resources more wisely and develop new sources and new forms of energy.

The actions I am announcing today and the proposals I am submitting to the Congress are designed to achieve these objectives. They reflect the fact that we are in a period of transition, in which we must work to avoid or at least minimize short-term supply shortages, while we act to expand and develop our domestic supplies in order to meet long-term energy needs.

We should not suppose this transition period will be easy. The task ahead will require the concerted and cooperative efforts of consumers, industry, and government.


The effort to increase domestic energy production in a manner consistent with our economic, environmental and security interests should focus on the following areas:


Natural gas is America's premium fuel. It is clean-burning and thus has the least detrimental effect on our environment.

Since 1966, our consumption of natural gas has increased by over one-third, so that today natural gas comprises 32 percent ,of the total energy we consume from all sources. During this same period, our proven and available reserves of natural gas have decreased by a fifth. Unless we act responsibly, we will soon encounter increasing shortages of this vital fuel.

Yet the problem of shortages results less from inadequate resources than from ill-conceived regulation. Natural gas is the fuel most heavily regulated by the Federal Government--through the Federal Power Commission. Not only are the operations of interstate natural gas pipelines regulated, as was originally and properly intended by the Congress, but the price of the natural gas supplied to these pipelines by thousands of independent producers has also been regulated.

For more than a decade the prices of natural gas supplied to pipelines under this extended regulation have been kept artificially low. As a result, demand has been artificially stimulated, but the exploration and development required to provide new supplies to satisfy this increasing demand have been allowed to wither. This form of government regulation has contributed heavily to the shortages we have experienced, and to the greater scarcity we now anticipate.

As a result of its low regulated price, more than 50 percent of our natural gas is consumed by industrial users and utilities, many of which might otherwise be using coal or oil. While homeowners are being forced to turn away from natural gas and toward more expensive fuels, unnecessarily large quantities of natural gas are being used by industry.

Furthermore, because prices within producing States are often higher than the interstate prices established by the Federal Power Commission, most newly discovered and newly produced natural gas does not enter interstate pipelines. Potential consumers in non-producing States thus suffer the worst shortages. While the Federal Power Commission has tried to alleviate these problems, the regulatory framework and attendant judicial constraints inhibit the ability of the Commission to respond adequately.

It is clear that the price paid to producers for natural gas in interstate trade must increase if there is to be the needed incentive for increasing supply and reducing inefficient usage. Some have suggested additional regulation to provide new incentives, but we have already seen the pitfalls in this approach. We must regulate less, not more. At the same time, we cannot remove all natural gas regulations without greatly inflating the price of gas currently in production and generating windfall profits.

To resolve this issue, I am proposing that gas from new wells, gas newly-dedicated to interstate markets, and the continuing production of natural gas from expired contracts should no longer be subject to price regulation at the wellhead. Enactment of this legislation should stimulate new exploration and development. At the same time, because increased prices on new unregulated gas would be averaged in with the prices for gas that is still regulated, the consumer should be protected against precipitous cost increases.

To add further consumer protection against unjustified price increases, I propose that the Secretary of the Interior be given authority to impose a ceiling on the price of new natural gas when circumstances warrant. Before exercising this power, the Secretary would consider the cost of alternative domestic fuels, taking into account the superiority of natural gas from an environmental standpoint. He would also consider the importance of encouraging production and more efficient use of natural gas.


Approximately half of the oil and gas resources in this country are located on public lands, primarily on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The speed at which we can increase our domestic energy production will depend in large measure on how rapidly these resources can be developed.

Since 1954, the Department of the Interior has leased to private developers almost 8 million acres on the Outer Continental Shelf. But this is only a small percentage of these potentially productive areas. At a time when we are being forced to obtain almost 30 percent of our oil from foreign sources, this level of development is not adequate.

I am therefore directing the Secretary of the Interior to take steps which would triple the annual acreage leased on the Outer Continental Shelf by 1979, beginning with expanded sales in 1974 in the Gulf of Mexico and including areas beyond 200 meters in depth under conditions consistent with my oceans policy statement of May, 1970. By 1985, this accelerated leasing rate could increase annual energy production by an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of oil (approximately 16 percent of our projected oil requirements in that year), and 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (approximately 20 percent of expected demand for natural gas that year).

In the past, a central concern in bringing these particular resources into production has been the threat of environmental damage. Today, new techniques, new regulations and standards, and new surveillance capabilities enable us to reduce and control environmental dangers substantially. We should now take advantage of this progress. The resources under the Shelf, and on all our public lands, belong to all Americans, and the critical needs of all Americans for new energy supplies require that we develop them.

If at any time it is determined that exploration and development of a specific shelf area can only proceed with inadequate protection of the environment, we will not commence or continue operations. This policy was reflected in the suspension of 35 leases in the Santa Barbara Channel in 1971. We are continuing the Santa Barbara suspensions, and I again request that the Congress pass legislation that would provide for appropriate settlement for those who are forced to relinquish their leases in the area.

At the same time, I am directing the Secretary of the Interior to proceed with leasing the Outer Continental Shelf beyond the Channel Islands of California if the reviews now underway show that the environmental risks are acceptable.

I am also asking the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, in consultation with the National Academy of Sciences and appropriate Federal agencies, to study the environmental impact of oil and gas production on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf and in the Gulf of Alaska. No drilling will be undertaken in these areas until its environmental impact is determined. Governors, legislators and citizens of these areas will be consulted in this process.

Finally, I am asking the Secretary of the Interior to develop a long-term leasing program for all energy resources on public lands, based on a thorough analysis of the Nation's energy, environmental, and economic objectives.


Another important source of domestic oil exists on the North Slope of Alaska. Although private industry stands ready to develop these reserves and the Federal Government has spent large sums on environmental analyses, this project is still being delayed. This delay is not related to any adverse judicial findings concerning environmental impact, but rather to an outmoded legal restriction regarding the width of the right of way for the proposed pipeline.

At a time when we are importing growing quantities of oil at great detriment to our balance of payments, and at a time when we are also experiencing significant oil shortages, we clearly need the two million barrels a day which the North Slope could provide--a supply equal to fully one-third of our present import levels.

In recent weeks I have proposed legislation to the Congress which would remove the present restriction on the pipeline. I appeal to the Congress to act swiftly on this matter so that we can begin construction of the pipeline with all possible speed.

I oppose any further delay in order to restudy the advisability of building the pipeline through Canada. Our interest in rapidly increasing our supply of oil is best served by an Alaskan pipeline. It could be completed much more quickly than a Canadian pipeline; its entire capacity would be used to carry domestically owned oil to American markets where it is needed; and construction of an Alaskan pipeline would create a significant number of American jobs both in Alaska and in the maritime industry.


Recoverable deposits of shale oil in the continental United States are estimated at some 600 billion barrels, 80 billion of which are considered easily accessible.

At the time of my Energy Message of 1971, I requested the Secretary of the Interior to develop an oil shale leasing program on a pilot basis and to provide me with a thorough evaluation of the environmental impact of such a program. The Secretary has prepared this pilot project and expects to have a final environmental impact statement soon. If the environmental risks are acceptable, we will proceed with the program.

To date there has been no commercial production of shale oil in the United States. Our pilot program will provide us with valuable experience in using various operational techniques and acting under various environmental conditions. Under the proposed program, the costs both of development and environmental protection would be borne by the private


At the time of my earlier Energy Message, I also directed the Department of the Interior to prepare a leasing program for the development of geothermal energy on Federal lands. The regulations and final environmental analysis for such a program should be completed by late spring of this year.

If the analysis indicates that we can proceed in an environmentally acceptable manner, I expect leasing of geothermal fields on Federal lands to begin soon thereafter.

The use of geothermal energy could be of significant importance to many of our western areas, and by supplying a part of the western energy demand, could release other energy resources that would otherwise have to be used. Today, for instance, power from the Geysers geothermal field in California furnishes about one-third of the electric power of the city of San Francisco.

New technologies in locating and producing geothermal energy are now under development. During the coming fiscal year, the National Science Foundation and the Geological Survey will intensify their research and development efforts in this field.


Coal is our most abundant and least costly domestic source of energy. Nevertheless, at a time when energy shortages loom on the horizon, coal provides less than 20 percent of our energy demands, and there is serious danger that its use will be reduced even further. If this reduction occurs, we would have to increase our oil imports rapidly, with all the trade and security problems this would entail.

Production of coal has been limited not only by competition from natural gas--a competition which has been artificially induced by Federal price regulation--but also by emerging environmental concerns and mine health and safety requirements. In order to meet environmental standards, utilities have shifted to natural gas and imported low-sulphur fuel oil. The problem is compounded by the fact that some low-sulphur coal resources are not being developed because of uncertainty about Federal and State mining regulations.

I urge that highest national priority be given to expanded development and utilization of our coal resources. Present and potential users who are able to choose among energy sources should consider the national interest as they make their choice. Each decision against coal increases petroleum or gas consumption, compromising our national self-sufficiency and raising the cost of meeting our energy needs.

In my State of the Union Message on Natural Resources and the Environment earlier this year, I called for strong legislation to protect the environment from abuse caused by mining. I now repeat that call. Until the coal industry knows the mining rules under which it will have to operate, our vast reserves of low-sulphur coal will not be developed as rapidly as they should be and the under-utilization of such coal will persist.

The Clean Air Act of 1970, as amended, requires that primary air quality standards--those related to health--must be met by 1975, while more stringent secondary standards--those related to the "general welfare"--must be met within a reasonable period. The States are moving very effectively to meet primary standards established by the Clean Air Act, and I am encouraged by their efforts.

At the same time, our concern for the "general welfare" or national interest should take into account considerations of national security and economic prosperity, as well as our environment.

If we insisted upon meeting both primary and secondary clean air standards by 1975, we could prevent the use of up to 155 million tons of coal per year. This would force an increase in demand for oil of 1.6 million barrels per day. This oil would have to be imported, with an adverse effect on our balance of payments of some $1.5 billion or more a year. Such a development would also threaten the loss of an estimated 26,000 coal mining jobs.

If, on the other hand, we carry out the provisions of the Clean Air Act in a judicious manner, carefully meeting the primary, health-related standards, but not moving in a precipitous way toward meeting the secondary standards, then we should be able to use virtually all of that coal which would otherwise go unused.

The Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that the reasonable time allowed by the Clean Air Act for meeting secondary standards could extend beyond 1975. Last year, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency sent to all State governors a letter explaining that during the current period of shortages in low-sulphur fuel, the States should not require the burning of such fuels except where necessary to meet the primary standards for the protection of health. This action by the States should permit the desirable substitution of coal for low sulphur fuel in many instances. I strongly support this policy.

Many State regulatory commissions permit their State utilities to pass on increased fuel costs to the consumer in the form of higher rates, but there are sometimes lags in allowing the costs of environmental control equipment to be passed on in a similar way. Such lags discourage the use of environmental control technology and encourage the use of low sulphur fuels, most of which are imported.

To increase the incentive for using new environmental technology, I urge all State utility commissions to ensure that utilities receive a rapid and fair return on pollution control equipment, including stack gas cleaning devices and coal gasification processes.

As an additional measure to increase the production and use of coal, I am directing that a new reporting system on national coal production be instituted within the Department of the Interior, and I am asking the Federal Power Commission for regular reports on the use of coal by utilities.

I am also stepping up our spending for research and development in coal, with special emphasis on technology for sulphur removal and the development of low-cost, clean-burning forms of coal.


Although our greatest dependence for energy until now has been on fossil fuels such as coal and oil, we must not and we need not continue this heavy reliance in the future. The major alternative to fossil fuel energy for the remainder of this century is nuclear energy.

Our well-established nuclear technology already represents an indispensable source of energy for meeting present needs. At present there are 30 nuclear power plants in operation in the United States; of the new electrical generator capacity contracted for during 1972, 70 percent will be nuclear powered. By 1980, the amount of electricity generated by nuclear reactors will be equivalent to 1.25 billion barrels of oil, or 8 trillion cubic feet of gas. It is estimated that nuclear power will provide more than one-quarter of this country's electrical production by 1985, and over half by the year 2000.

Most nuclear power plants now in operation utilize light water reactors. In the near future, some will use high temperature gas-cooled reactors. These techniques will be supplemented during the next decade by the fast breeder reactor, which will bring about a 30-fold increase in the efficiency with which we utilize our domestic uranium resources. At present, development of the liquid metal fast breeder reactor is our highest priority target for nuclear research and development.

Nuclear power generation has an extraordinary safety record. There has never been a nuclear-related fatality in our civilian atomic energy program. We intend to maintain that record by increasing research and development in reactor safety.

The process of determining the safety and environmental acceptability of nuclear power plants is more vigorous and more open to public participation than for any comparable industrial enterprise. Every effort must be made by the Government and industry to protect public health and safety and to provide satisfactory answers to those with honest concerns about this source of power.

At the same time, we must seek to avoid unreasonable delays in developing nuclear power. They serve only to impose unnecessary costs and aggravate our energy shortages. It is discouraging to know that nuclear facilities capable of generating 57,000 megawatts of electric power which were expected to be operational by 1972 were not completed. To replace that generating capacity we would have to use the equivalent of one-third of the natural gas the country used for generating electricity in 1972. This situation must not continue. In my first Energy Special Message in 1971, I proposed that utilities prepare and publish long-range plans for the siting of nuclear power plants and transmission lines. This legislation would provide a Federal-State framework for licensing individual plants on the basis of a full and balanced consideration of both environmental and energy needs. The Congress has not acted on that proposal. I am resubmitting that legislation this year with a number of new provisions to simplify licensing, including one to require that the Government act on all completed license applications within 18 months after they are received.

I would also emphasize that the private sector's role in future nuclear development must continue to grow. The Atomic Energy Commission is presently taking steps to provide greater amounts of enriched uranium fuel for the Nation's nuclear power plants. However, this expansion will not fully meet our needs in the 1980's; the Government now looks to private industry to provide the additional capacity that will be required.

Our nuclear technology is a national asset of inestimable value. It is essential that we press forward with its development.

The increasing occurrence of unnecessary delays in the development of energy facilities must be ended if we are to meet our energy needs. To be sure, reasonable safeguards must be vigorously maintained for protection of the public and of our environment. Full public participation and questioning must also be allowed as we decide where new energy facilities are to be built. We need to streamline our governmental procedures for licensing and inspections, reduce overlapping jurisdictions and eliminate confusion generated by the government.

To achieve these ends I am taking several steps. During the coming year we will examine various possibilities to assure that all public and private interests are impartially and expeditiously weighed in all government proceedings for permits, licensing and inspections.

I am again proposing siting legislation to the Congress for electric facilities and for the first time, for deepwater ports. All of my new siting legislation includes provision for simplified licensing at both Federal and State levels. It is vital that the Congress take prompt and favorable action on these proposals.


Our tax system now provides needed incentives for mineral exploration in the form of percentage depletion allowances and deductions for certain drilling expenses. These provisions do not, however, distinguish between exploration for new reserves and development of existing reserves.

In order to encourage increased exploration, I ask the Congress to extend the investment credit provisions of our present tax law so that a credit will be provided for all exploratory drilling for new oil and gas fields. Under this proposal, a somewhat higher credit would apply for successful exploratory wells than for unsuccessful ones, in order to put an additional premium on results.

The investment credit has proven itself a powerful stimulus to industrial activity. I expect it to be equally effective in the search for new reserves.


In order to avert a short-term fuel shortage and to keep fuel costs as low as possible, it will be necessary for us to increase fuel imports. At the same time, in order to reduce our long-term reliance on imports, we must encourage the exploration and development of our domestic oil and the construction of refineries to process it.

The present quota system for oil imports--the Mandatory Oil Import Program--was established at a time when we could produce more oil at home than we were using. By imposing quantitative restrictions on imports, the quota system restricted imports of foreign oil. It also encouraged the development of our domestic petroleum industry in the interest of national security.

Today, however, we are not producing as much oil as we are using, and we must import ever larger amounts to meet our needs.

As a result, the current Mandatory Oil Import Program is of virtually no benefit any longer. Instead, it has the very real potential of aggravating our supply problems, and it denies us the flexibility we need to deal quickly and efficiently with our import requirements. General dissatisfaction with the program and the apparent need for change has led to uncertainty. Under these conditions, there can be little long-range investment planning for new drilling and refinery construction.

Effective today, I am removing by proclamation [4210] all existing tariffs on imported crude oil and products. Holders of import licenses will be able to import petroleum duty free. This action will help hold down the cost of energy to the American consumer.

Effective today, I am also suspending direct control over the quantity of crude oil and refined products which can be imported. In place of these controls, I am substituting a license-fee quota system.

Under the new system, present holders of import licenses may import petroleum exempt from fees up to the level of their 1973 quota allocations. For imports in excess of the 1973 level, a fee must be paid by the importer.

This system should achieve several objectives.

First, it should help to meet our immediate energy needs by encouraging importation of foreign oil at the lowest cost to consumers, while also providing incentives for exploration and development of our domestic resources to meet our long-term needs. There will be little paid in fees this year, although all exemptions from fees will be phased out over several years. By gradually increasing fees over the next two and one-half years to a maximum level of one-half cent per gallon for crude oil and one and one-half cents per gallon for all refined products, we should continue to meet our energy needs while encouraging industry to increase its domestic production.

Second, this system should encourage refinery construction in the United States, because the fees are higher for refined products than for crude oil. As an added incentive, crude oil in amounts up to three-fourths of new refining capacity may be imported without being subject to any fees. This special allowance will be available to an oil company during the first five years after it builds or expands its refining capacity.

Third, this system should provide the flexibility we must have to meet short and long-term needs efficiently. We will review the fee level periodically to ensure that we are imposing the lowest fees consistent with our intention to increase domestic production while keeping costs to the consumer at the lowest possible level. We will also make full use of the Oil Import Appeals Board to ensure that the needs of all elements of the petroleum industry are met, particularly those of independent operators who help to maintain market competition.

Fourth, the new system should contribute to our national security. Increased domestic production will leave us less dependent on foreign supplies. At the same time, we will adjust the fees in a manner designed to encourage, to the extent possible, the security of our foreign supplies. Finally, I am directing the Oil Policy Committee to examine incentives aimed at increasing our domestic storage capacity or shut-in production. In this way we will provide buffer stocks to insulate ourselves against a temporary loss of foreign supplies.


It is clear that in the foreseeable future, we will have to import oil in large quantities. We should do this as cheaply as we can with minimal damage to the environment. Unfortunately, our present capabilities are inadequate for these purposes.

The answer to this problem lies in deepwater ports which can accommodate those larger ships, providing important economic advantages while reducing the risks of collision and grounding. Recent studies by the Council on Environmental Quality demonstrate that we can expect considerably less pollution if we use fewer but larger tankers and deepwater facilities, as opposed to the many small tankers and conventional facilities which we would otherwise need.

If we do not enlarge our deepwater port capacity it is clear that both American and foreign companies will expand oil transshipment terminals in the Bahamas and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. From these terminals, oil will be brought to our conventional ports by growing numbers of small and medium size transshipment vessels, thereby increasing the risks of pollution from shipping operations and accidents. At the same time, the United States will lose the jobs and capital that those foreign facilities provide.

Given these considerations, I believe we must move forward with an ambitious program to create new deepwater ports for receiving petroleum imports.

The development of ports has usually been a responsibility of State and local governments and the private sector. However, States cannot issue licenses beyond the three-mile limit. I am therefore proposing legislation to permit the Department of the Interior to issue such licenses. Licensing would be contingent upon full and proper evaluation of environmental impact, and would provide for strict navigation and safety, as well as proper land use requirements. The proposed legislation specifically provides for Federal cooperation with State and local authorities.


The abundance of America's natural resources has been one of our greatest advantages in the past. But if this abundance encourages us to take our resources for granted, then it may well be a detriment to our future.

Common sense clearly dictates that as we expand the types and sources of energy available to us for the future, we must direct equal attention to conserving the energy available to us today, and we must explore means to limit future growth in energy demand.

We as a nation must develop a national energy conservation ethic. Industry can help by designing products which conserve energy and by using energy more efficiently. All workers and consumers can help by continually saving energy in their day-to-day activities: by turning out lights, tuning up automobiles, reducing the use of air conditioning and heating, and purchasing products which use energy efficiently.

Government at all levels also has an important role to play, both by conserving energy directly, and by providing leadership in energy conservation efforts.

I am directing today that an Office of Energy Conservation be established in the Department of the Interior to coordinate the energy conservation programs which are presently scattered throughout the Federal establishment. This office will conduct research and work with consumer and environmental groups in their efforts to educate consumers on ways to get the greatest return on their energy dollar.

To provide consumers with further information, I am directing the Department of Commerce, working with the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency, to develop a voluntary system of energy efficiency labels for major home appliances. These labels should provide data on energy use as well as a rating comparing the product's efficiency to other similar products. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency will soon release the results of its tests of fuel efficiency in automobiles.

There are other ways, too, in which government can exercise leadership in this field. I urge again, for example, that we allow local officials to use money from [the] Highway Trust Fund for mass transit purposes. Greater reliance on mass transit can do a great deal to help us conserve gasoline.

The Federal Government can also lead by example. The General Services Administration, for instance, is constructing a new Federal office building using advanced energy conservation techniques, with a goal of reducing energy use by 20 percent over typical buildings of the same size. At the same time, the National Bureau of Standards is evaluating energy use in a full-size house within its laboratories. When this evaluation is complete, analytical techniques will be available to help predict energy use for new dwellings. This information, together with the experience gained in the construction and operation of the demonstration Federal building, will assist architects and contractors to design and construct energy-efficient buildings.

Significant steps to upgrade insulation standards on single and multi-family dwellings were taken at my direction in 1971 and 1972, helping to reduce heat loss and otherwise conserve energy in the residential sector. As soon as the results of these important demonstration projects are available, I will direct the Federal Housing Administration to update its insulation standards in light of what we have learned and to consider their possible extension to mobile homes.

Finally, we should recognize that the single most effective means of encouraging energy conservation is to ensure that energy prices reflect their true costs. By eliminating regulations such as the current ceiling on natural gas prices and by ensuring that the costs of adequate environmental controls are equitably allocated, we can move toward more efficient distribution of our resources.

Energy conservation is a national necessity, but I believe that it can be undertaken most effectively on a voluntary basis. If the challenge is ignored, the result will be a danger of increased shortages, increased prices, damage to the environment and the increased possibility that conservation will have to be undertaken by compulsory means in the future. There should be no need for a nation which has always been rich in energy to have to turn to energy rationing. This is a part of the energy challenge which every American can help to meet, and I call upon every American to do his or her part.


If we are to be certain that the forward thrust of our economy will not be hampered by insufficient energy supplies or by energy supplies that are prohibitively expensive, then we must not continue to be dependent on conventional forms of energy. We must instead make every useful effort through research and development to provide both alternative sources of energy and new technologies for producing and utilizing this energy.

For the short-term future, our research and development strategy will provide technologies to extract and utilize our existing fossil fuels in a manner most compatible with a healthy environment.

In the longer run, from 1985 to the beginning of the next century, we will have more sophisticated development of our fossil fuel resources and on the full development of the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor. Our efforts for the distant future center on the development of technologies--such as nuclear fusion and solar power--that can provide us with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.

In my 1971 Energy Special Message to the Congress I outlined a broadly based research and development program. I proposed the expansion of cooperative Government-industry efforts to develop the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor, coal gasification, and stack gas cleaning systems at the demonstration level. These programs are all progressing well.

My budget for fiscal year 1974 provides for an increase in energy research and development funding of 20 percent over the level of 1973.

My 1974 budget provides for creation of a new central energy fund in the Interior Department to provide additional money for non-nuclear research and development, with the greatest part designated for coal research. This central fund is designed to give us the flexibility we need for rapid exploitation of new, especially promising energy technologies with near-term payoffs.

One of the most promising programs that will be receiving increased funding in fiscal year 1974 is the solvent refined coal process which will produce low-ash, low-sulphur fuels from coal. Altogether, coal research and development and proposed funding is increased by 27 percent.

In addition to increased funding for the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor, I am asking for greater research and development on reactor safety and radioactive waste disposal, and the production of nuclear fuel.

The waters of the world contain potential fuel--in the form of a special isotope of hydrogen--sufficient to power fusion reactors for thousands of years. Scientists at the Atomic Energy Commission now predict with increasing confidence that we can demonstrate laboratory feasibility of controlled thermonuclear fusion by magnetic confinement in the near future. We have also advanced to the point where some scientists believe the feasibility of laser fusion could be demonstrated within the next several years. I have proposed in my 1974 budget a 35 percent increase in funding for our total fusion research and development effort to accelerate experimental programs and to initiate preliminary reactor design studies.

While we look to breeder reactors to meet our mid-term energy needs, today's commercial power reactors will continue to provide most of our nuclear generating capacity for the balance of this century. Although nuclear reactors have had a remarkable safety record, my 1974 budget provides additional funds to assure that our rapidly growing reliance on nuclear power will not compromise public health and safety. This includes work on systems for safe storage of the radioactive waste which nuclear reactors produce. The Atomic Energy Commission is working on additional improvements in surface storage and will continue to explore the possibility of underground burial for long-term containment of these wastes.

Solar energy holds great promise as a potentially limitless source of clean energy. My new budget triples our solar energy research and development effort to a level of $12 million. A major portion of these funds would be devoted to accelerating the development of commercial systems for heating and cooling buildings.

Research and development funds relating to environmental control technologies would be increased 24 percent in my 1974 budget. This research includes a variety of projects related to stack gas cleaning and includes the construction of a demonstration sulphur dioxide removal plant. In addition, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to conduct research on the thermal effects of power plants.

While the Federal Government is significantly increasing its commitment to energy research and development, a large share of such research is and should be conducted by the private sector.

I am especially pleased that the electric utilities have recognized the importance of research in meeting the rapidly escalating demand for electrical energy. The recent establishment of the Electric Power Research Institute, which will have a budget in 1974 in excess of $100 million, can help develop technology to meet both load demands and environmental regulations currently challenging the industry.

Historically the electric power industry has allocated a smaller portion of its revenues to research than have most other technology-dependent industries. This pattern has been partly attributable to the reluctance of some State utility commissions to include increased research and development expenditures in utility rate bases. Recently the Federal Power Commission instituted a national rule to allow the recovery of research and development expenditures in rates. State regulatory agencies have followed the FPC's lead and are liberalizing their treatment of research and development expenditures consistent with our changing national energy demands.

I am hopeful that this trend will continue and I urge all State utility commissions to review their regulations regarding research and development expenditures to ensure that the electric utility industry can fully cooperate in a national energy research and development effort.

It is foolish and self-defeating to allocate funds more rapidly than they can be effectively spent. At the same time, we must carefully monitor our progress and our needs to ensure that our funding is adequate. When additional funds are found to be essential, I shall do everything I can to see that they are provided.


The energy challenge confronts every nation. Where there is such a community of interest, there is both a cause and a basis for cooperative action.

Today, the United States is involved in a number of cooperative, international efforts. We have joined with the other 22 member-nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to produce a comprehensive report on long-term problems and to develop an agreement for sharing oil in times of acute shortages. The European Economic Community has already discussed the need for cooperative efforts and is preparing recommendations for a Community energy policy. We have expressed a desire to work together with them in this effort.

We have also agreed with the Soviet Union to pursue joint research in magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), a highly efficient process for generating electricity, and to exchange information on fusion, fission, the generation of electricity, transmission and pollution control technology. These efforts should be a model for joint research efforts with other countries. Additionally, American companies are looking into the possibility of joint projects with the Soviet Union to develop natural resources for the benefit of both nations.

I have also instructed the Department of State, in coordination with the Atomic Energy Commission, other appropriate Government agencies, and the Congress to move rapidly in developing a program of international cooperation in research and development on new forms of energy and in developing international mechanisms for dealing with energy questions in times of critical shortages.

I believe the energy challenge provides an important opportunity for nations to pursue vital objectives through peaceful cooperation. No chance should be lost to strengthen the structure of peace we are seeking to 'build in the world, and few issues provide us with as good an opportunity to demonstrate that there is more to be gained in pursuing our national interests through mutual cooperation than through destructive competition or dangerous confrontation.


If we are to meet the energy challenge, the current fragmented organization of energy-related activities in the executive branch of the Government must be overhauled.

In 1971, I proposed legislation to consolidate Federal energy-related activities within a new Department of Natural Resources. The 92nd Congress did not act on this proposal. In the interim I have created a new post of Counsellor to the President on Natural Resources to assist in the policy coordination in the natural resources field.

Today I am taking executive action specifically to improve the Federal organization of energy activities.

I have directed the Secretary of the Interior to strengthen his Department's organization of energy activities in several ways.

--The responsibilities of the new Assistant Secretary for Energy and Minerals will be expanded to incorporate all departmental energy activities;

--The Department is to develop a capacity for gathering and analysis of energy data;

--An Office of Energy Conservation is being created to seek means for reducing demands for energy;

--The Department of the Interior has also strengthened its capabilities for overseeing and coordinating a broader range of energy research and development.

By Executive order [11703], I have placed authority in the Department of the Treasury for directing the Oil Policy Committee. That Committee coordinates the oil import program and makes recommendations to me for changes in that program. The Deputy Secretary of the Treasury has been designated Chairman of that Committee.

Through a second Executive order [11712], effective today, I am strengthening the capabilities of the Executive Office of the President to deal with top level energy policy matters by establishing a special energy committee composed of three of my principal advisors. The order also reaffirms the appointment of a Special Consultant, who heads an energy staff in the Office of the President.

Additionally, a new division of Energy and Science is being established within the Office of Management and Budget.

While these executive actions will help, more fundamental reorganization is needed. To meet this need, I shall propose legislation to establish a Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR) building on the legislation I submitted in 1971, with heightened emphasis on energy programs.

This new Department would provide leadership across the entire range of national energy. It would, in short, be responsible for administering the national energy policy detailed in this message.


Nations succeed only as they are able to respond to challenge, and to change when circumstances and opportunities require change.

When the first settlers came to America, they found a land of untold natural wealth, and this became the cornerstone of the most prosperous nation in the world. As we have grown in population, in prosperity, in industrial capacity, in all those indices that reflect the constant upward thrust in the American standard of living, the demands on our natural resources have also grown.

Today, the energy resources which have fueled so much of our national growth are not sufficiently developed to meet the constantly increasing demands which have been placed upon them. The time has come to change the way we meet these demands. The challenge facing us represents one of the great opportunities of our time--an opportunity to create an even stronger domestic economy, a cleaner environment, and a better life for all our people.

The proposals I am submitting and the actions I will take can give us the tools to do this important job.

The need for action is urgent. I hope the Congress will act with dispatch on the proposals I am submitting. But in the final analysis, the ultimate responsibility does not rest merely with the Congress or with this Administration. It rests with all of us--with government, with industry and with the individual citizen.

Whenever we have been confronted with great national challenges in the past, the American people have done their duty. I am confident we shall do so now.

The White House,
April 18, 1973.

Note: On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing on the message by Secretary of the Treasury George P. Shultz. Also released was the transcript of a news briefing on oil import policy by William E. Simon, Deputy Secretary, and William A. Johnson, Energy Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, Department of the Treasury; and Charles J. DiBona, Special Consultant to the President on energy matters.
Citation: Richard Nixon: "Special Message to the Congress on Energy Policy.," April 18, 1973. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3817.
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