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Remarks About the Nation's Energy Policy.

September 08, 1973

AS you know, we have just completed a e-hour meeting in the Cabinet Room of the major Administration officials having responsibilities in the field of energy. Governor Love presided over the meeting at my direction and gave a report with regard to the programs that he has initiated and that had been initiated prior to his taking over this assignment.

I would like to summarize for the members of the press, before having the Governor answer your specific questions in this field, the problem as I see it at this time.

We have heard a lot about a crisis. I do not use that term, because we do not face a crisis in that sense of the word. I would simply say that in the short term we face a problem, a problem with regard to energy--heating, for example, this winter, just as we thought we faced a problem of gasoline this summer, and the possibility of brownouts.

We are not Pollyannaish about solving that problem, but insofar as the short-term problem is concerned, Governor Love has a program which he is working on and one which is designed to meet the problem and to deal with it.

So, I would summarize by saying that short-term we face a problem. But long-term, and this is the important thing for us to remember, the prospects for adequate energy for the United States are excellent. I would say the prospects for adequate energy for the United States are as good as they are for any industrial nation in the world and perhaps better, better because of our enormous research capabilities.

This morning we addressed both the short-term problem and the long-term problem and the legislative problem and the administrative problem.

In my press conference a couple of days ago, I mentioned seven pieces of legislation. Today we have moved down to four pieces of legislation that we consider to be of the highest urgency and that must be acted upon before the end of 'the year. These pieces of legislation deal with both the short-term problem and address themselves particularly, however, to the long-term problem.

One is the Alaska pipeline, which is presently in conference and, of course, where the prospects are excellent. The second is the deepwater ports. The longer we wait here, the longer we are going to have to wait to have the capacity to bring in the products from abroad that we need to meet our energy needs. The third is the deregulation of gas. This we must act upon now, because only through deregulation can the new construction, which is essential, the new construction, the drilling, et cetera, and the refineries be undertaken. And the fourth is the legislation with regard 'to strip raining.

The strip mining legislation, as we know, has elements of controversy because of conflict with the environmentalists. But Mr. Train 1 was here at the meeting this morning, at our request, and he has been participating in all of these meetings, and he believes that the legislation that we have presented to the Congress, properly administered, is one that can be consistent with our environmental goals.

1Russell E. Train was Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and Administrator-designate of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So much for what the Congress should do. These four pieces of legislation that Congress should consider on a high priority basis, because failing to act means that we could have very serious problems, not just this year but, particularly in the years ahead.

The other points that I would make are with regard to what we can do and have done and are doing from an administrative standpoint, that do not require legislation.

One is the relaxation of emission standards. Governor Love is calling together several Governors who have particular interest in this area, and he will be meeting with them either next week or early in the following week. The relaxation of emission standards will have the effect of dealing with the immediate problem, the problem we face this winter, and unless those standards are relaxed, we could have a very serious problem this winter. That is why the Governor is moving in this particular area. This can be done, incidentally, administratively, but it requires the cooperation of the Governors because the Governors have, in many instances, as a result of our asking them to do so, had their legislators adopt standards at the State level which presently are State law. It will be necessary for those to be modified.

A second area where administrative action is possible is with regard to the Elk Hills Naval Reserve. Here, consultation with the Congress is required, and we will institute that kind of consultation that is necessary, particularly with the Armed Services Committee. But developing the Elk Hills Reserves is essential in terms of providing, from our domestic sources, for the needs that we have.

And consequently, we are moving next week in the consultative process so that we can go forward with the Elk Hills development.

And then further--and this looks down the road--we gave the go-ahead this morning for a sharp step-rip in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Now, there are many old wives tales and horror stories that are told about nuclear plants and all the rest. Russell Train was there; I asked him about the effect on the environment, to separate out the fears from what actually the facts were. He came down on the side of going forward with the program, the development of nuclear power, not only having in mind our present technology but also research which would allow us to develop nuclear energy in much more exciting ways, looking to the future, for peaceful purposes.

And in this field, I will be meeting, myself, next week with members of the Atomic Energy Commission, along with the Governor and with Russell Train so that we can give new impetus to that program of the development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

We were the first to make the breakthrough in nuclear power for military purposes. We have lagged behind in peaceful uses. Some nations abroad, while they certainly do not have our 'technology, at least have more thrust here, they have more drive here in this area than we have. But the development of nuclear power for peaceful purposes is to be a major Administration initiative from now on through the balance of our term here.

In the field of research also this relates clear back to the strip mining a moment ago--is the area of research with regard to the use of coal. Secretary Morton pointed out in our meeting this morning that when we think of the energy sources for the United States, that 4 percent, only 4 percent presently in the ground, come from oil, 3 percent potentially from natural gas, and 91 percent from coal.

The United States, at the present time has almost half of the coal reserves of the world. And the problem only is to get the coal out in a way that is not too destructive to the environment, but also to find the uses for coal, lignification programs, other programs which the Governor is quite familiar with and which I am not, but which he will be glad to fill you in on:

I would simply summarize in this way. The other day in our press conference-the Governor and I did discuss this, and I have asked him, once he does have the time, to perhaps travel abroad and have an opportunity to survey the situation in some of these countries himself--I was asked about the developments in the Mideast and what that meant to us.

The United States would prefer to continue to import oil, petroleum products from the Mideast, from Venezuela, from Canada, from other countries, but also we are keenly aware of the fact that no nation, and particularly no industrial nation. must be in a position of being at the mercy of any other nation by having its energy supplies suddenly cut off.

We are going to do the very best we can to work out problems with the Mideastern countries or any other countries that may develop, so that we can continue to have a flow of imports into the United States of oil products particularly.

On the other hand, the programs that I have discussed here today. for the most part, as you know, deal with developing within the United States itself the capability of providing for our energy resources. We can develop those resources. It can be done within a matter of a very few years. I am not going to put a timetable on it, but it can be done. Because the United States, as a great industrial nation. the most advanced industrial nation of the world, must be in a position and must develop the capacity so that no other nation in the world that might, for some reason or another, take an unfriendly attitude toward the United States, has us, frankly, in a position where they can cut off' our oil or, basically more important. cut off our energy.

I would like to say finally that Governor Love in his brief time here has done a superb job of trying to pull all of the various agencies of the Government together. The conversation within the Cabinet Room was quite spirited. There were disagreements in certain areas, and finally, however, we did agree on the program that I have outlined here today.

The Governor will be able to answer technical questions about propane and other things, where I am not, frankly, quite knowledgeable.

So, Governor, the ladies and gentlemen are yours.

Note: The President spoke at 11:08 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House following a meeting on energy policy with Cabinet members and Administration officials.

On the same day, the White House released a transcript of the news briefing on the meeting by John A. Love, Director of the Energy Policy Office, and Charles J. DiBona, Special Consultant to the President on energy matters.

Richard Nixon, Remarks About the Nation's Energy Policy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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