National Energy Plan Remarks Urging Congressional Action on the Plan.
THE PRESIDENT. One year ago today, I spoke to the Congress and to the American people about the need for a national energy plan. I said then that this was the gravest domestic challenge that would be faced, perhaps, in our lifetime, and that solving it would take cooperation and sacrifice from all our people. I also said that the proposals in this plan would be complicated and often unpopular and that no solution would be quick, but that we had no alternative but to begin and to act without delay. None of that has changed in the last year. All that has changed is that we have wasted 12 months of precious time.
During the past year we've spent $45 billion importing oil from foreign countries, an average of about $1,000 for every family in the United States. Because of these mammoth imports, our trade deficit has soared and the value of the dollar has dropped. These developments have caused part of the crucial problems that we face here at home of inflation and unemployment.
Because of this delay, governments and people all around the world are asking when we will summon the will to pass an energy plan as every other industrialized nation in the world has already done.
There have been some few promising developments in this last year. New oil from Alaska has given us a temporary reprieve from importing so much oil from overseas. But unless we act on energy legislation and to eliminate waste of energy, this temporary reprieve, counting all the Alaskan oil, will end in 18 months.
The American people have begun to respond by insulating their homes, by .switching to lightweight cars, and by taking other action that will contribute to a permanent solution for our energy problems.
We are all more aware, I believe, of the need to conserve energy than we were 1 year ago. All of this has happened without legislation, but we cannot afford to wait any longer.
Although no final action has been taken, the Congress has tentatively agreed on three of the five issues that are before the conference committees now. I recognize that the remaining issues are difficult, and particularly the pricing of natural gas, an issue confronting our people and the Congress for at least 30 years. But now is the time to bring that congressional debate to an end.
We must have energy legislation without delay, and I call on the Congress to fulfill its duty to the American people. Where legislation requires firmness, I will continue to be firm. Where compromise is necessary, I will make reasonable compromises. And when it requires a special expression of the Nation's interest, I will speak for that interest, above the special interests that have hindered our progress so far.
The American people expect these same qualities from the Congress.
Thank you very much.
REPORTER. Sir, how long will you wait before you have to take administrative action if Congress doesn't act?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know yet.
Note: The President spoke at 3:31 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.
Jimmy Carter, National Energy Plan Remarks Urging Congressional Action on the Plan. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245306