To the Congress of the United States:
The National Energy Policy Plan that I am sending you, as required by Section 801 of the Department of Energy Organization Act (Public Law 95-91), represents a break from the format and philosophy of the two National Energy Plans that preceded it.
Our national energy plan should not be a rigid set of production and conservation goals dictated by Government. Our primary objective is simply for our citizens to have enough energy, and it is up to them to decide how much energy that is, and in what form and manner it will reach them. When the free market is permitted to work the way it should, millions of individual choices and judgments will produce the proper balance of supply and demand our economy needs.
Overall, the outlook for this country's energy supplies is not nearly as grim as some have painted it, although our problems are not all behind us. The detailed projections, along with the supplementary documents on environmental and economic questions, are being submitted separately by the Secretary of Energy.
The approach explained in the basic National Energy Policy Plan cannot be divorced from the Administration's program for national economic recovery. Energy is one important aspect of our society, but it is only one.
This Administration's actions to end oil price controls and to dismantle the cumbersome regulatory apparatus associated with those controls demonstrate the intent stated in my February 18 economic message to minimize Federal intervention in the marketplace. Reforms in leasing policies and the removal of unnecessary environmental restrictions upon the production, delivery, and use of energy are part of this same effort to reduce bureaucratic burdens on all Americans.
This does not mean that the Federal government is withdrawing from all involvement in energy. It cannot and should not. The Government itself is directly responsible for lands which contain a major share of our resource wealth.
There is also an appropriate Federal role in certain long-term research and development related to energy production and distribution. The goal of these projects is to develop promising technological innovations to the point where private enterprise can reasonably assess their risks.
Given our continued vulnerability to energy supply disruptions, certain emergency preparations—such as rapid filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—remain principally a Government responsibility. But our basic role is to provide a sound and stable economic and policy environment that will enable our citizens, businesses, and governmental units at all levels to make rational decisions on energy use and production—decisions that reflect the true value, in every sense, of all the Nation's resources.
The White House,
July 17, 1981.