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Remarks About the Nation's Energy Shortage.

December 13, 1973

Ladies and gentlemen:

This is the first of a number of periodic reports that will be made on energy by Director Simon [William E. Simon, Administrator of the Federal Energy Office].

As you know, yesterday there was a meeting of the Energy Emergency Action Group, meetings that will be attended by the President and the Vice President, or both, as they occur, usually on a weekly basis. As far as that group is concerned, I can say first that the entire Federal establishment, in terms of the Administration, the bureaucracy, so-called, the Cabinet officers, and all of the administrative bodies, is cooperating fully and totally with Director Simon.

I have given instructions--quite harshly, I should say--to all of those there, not that they needed a harsh statement, but I felt it is very important that there not be any infighting, there not be any competition, there not be any struggle for power because of our setting up. this new office, and that particularly that everyone, whatever his special constituency is, whatever it may be, must put the conservation of energy first.

Director Simon has my total support as he works with the various Cabinet officers and with the various department heads in carrying out that policy.

With regard to the Congress, as you know, this is somewhat D-day in terms of our legislation. We are having a few problems in working out the language of the legislation and working around some amendments that we think would be very detrimental, not only in terms of energy but particularly in terms of the economy generally.

I am going to be watching that situation during the day, and we may have a report later in the day or possibly tomorrow as to what the Congressional action will be. But we generally are confident that we will get from the Congress a satisfactory piece of legislation that I can sign before the Congress leaves for its recess next week.

With regard to the Governors, we are meeting later today with them, a group of Governors, because cooperation by the Governors of all the States is required. And at their request, and also with our enthusiastic acceptance, they are coming here, a group of them to meet with us in the Cabinet Room.

You will be allowed, of course, to cover that, at least briefly at the outset of the meeting.

I want to say finally, before Director Simon goes into an analysis of what has happened in the 3 weeks that we have had our program in effect, I want to emphasize particularly a segment of this whole country that deserves perhaps the most credit. Industry is cooperating, the Governors are cooperating, the Federal establishment is cooperating, and each should cooperate because that is their responsibility, because of their public positions and their public responsibilities in this area.

As far as the American people are concerned, it is solely a matter of their cooperating in a voluntary way. Whether an individual slows down to 50 miles an hour, we don't have the ability to compel him to do so. There may be in some States, of course, speed limits that have been changed, but generally speaking, it is a voluntary action on the part of the individual. Lowering the thermostat is a voluntary action on the part of the individual.

And to me what is the most exciting and encouraging part of the energy report we received yesterday--and Mr. Simon will capsule it for you today--is that that cooperation of millions of Americans has begun to pay off in saving energy.

For example, the demand for gasoline last week was 15 percent less than we had anticipated, and a great part of the reduction in that demand is due to the cooperation that we have received, the voluntary cooperation from individual Americans all across this country.

If that cooperation continues, it means that, together with the Government actions that we will be taking, the cooperation of industry and labor, the other institutions that I have mentioned, that we are going to be able to deal with this problem in a way that is effective, one in which everyone will sacrifice something, but in which no one will be required to suffer as a result of the energy crisis.

Mr. Simon has some other statistics that will bear out the statements that I have made, and, Bill, if you would now take over and answer the questions, I would appreciate it.

MR. SIMON. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Incidentally, because the room is so crowded, I was going to suggest that perhaps next week we might set this meeting over in the conference room in the EOB. Then we could all sit down. I can see that there are only about eight chairs in here. So we will set it over in the EOB after this--have your weekly briefing over there, because there you can seat about 200 people. Because I am sure they will want to do a lot of writing.

Note: The President spoke at 10:17 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

On the same day, the White House released a transcript of the news briefing on national energy policies and actions taken by the Federal Energy Office, which followed the President's remarks. Participants in the news briefing were William E. Simon, Administrator, and John C. Sawhill, Deputy Administrator, William A. Johnson, Director of Policy Analysis, and Eric R. Zausner and John A. Hill, Assistant Administrators, all of the Federal Energy Office; and Russell E. Train, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also released was the transcript of a news briefing on Federal-State cooperation on solutions to the energy crisis by Mr. Simon and Governors Stanley K. Hathaway of Wyoming, Daniel J. Evans of Washington, and Wendell H. Ford of Kentucky.

Later in the day, the President joined a meeting in the Cabinet Room with 18 Governors who were conferring with Administration officials on the energy situation.

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

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