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Remarks Announcing Proposed Compromise With the Congress on Decontrol of Domestic Oil Prices

July 14, 1975

I have a short statement I would like to read.

To reduce our growing dependence on foreign oil, I will send to the Congress a compromise plan to phase out remaining Government price controls on domestic oil by January 1978.1

During this period of decontrol, a price ceiling will be placed on all domestically produced oil to ensure that American crude oil prices cannot be dictated by foreign oil producers.

By removing Government controls, production of oil here at home can be stimulated and energy conserved. Decontrol and the import fees I imposed earlier will reduce our dangerous reliance on foreign oil by almost 900,000 barrels a day in just over 2 years.

There is no cost-free way to reduce our dependence on increasingly expensive foreign oil. Gradual decontrol will result in a price increase on all petroleum products--less than 1 1/2 cents per gallon by the end of this year and 7 cents by 1978. This is a small price to pay for our national independence from the costly whims of foreign suppliers.

If the Congress acts on this compromise, on my proposed energy taxes, including the tax on excessive profits of oil companies, and on my proposed refunds to the American consumer to make up for higher energy costs, then the burden of decontrol will be shared fairly, our economic recovery will continue, and we will be able to protect American jobs.

The problem is: 60 percent of all domestic production is still price-controlled at about $5.25 per barrel. This price discourages the use of new and more expensive production techniques. It encourages wasteful use of the limited domestic resource.

But the powers that I possess under the current law to phase out controls are limited. Either the Senate or the House of Representatives can prevent gradual decontrol from going into effect.

This morning, I held a meeting on this subject with the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and the Senate. It was recognized that this is a very complicated matter. There seems now to be an agreement that the Nation must have both a short-range and long-range solution to energy problems. And as anyone knows who has seriously studied the matter and who is honest with himself, there is no option or alternative available that is free.

I would hope the Congress would give this important matter the very serious consideration that it deserves and not take hasty action.

I will continue to urge the Congress to accept this reasonable compromise. If it does not, one alternative to ensure continued progress toward energy independence would be to veto an extension of the present oil price control law, which will expire in August.

But the plan I prefer will gradually lift price restrictions on controlled oil and place a ceiling on all domestic crude oil prices.

We still have the choice of acting in our own best energy interests instead of reacting to decisions made by foreign countries. We must start thinking of the energy crisis in terms of American jobs, homes, food, and financial security.

Our economic well-being and our national security depend upon American control of the American economy. We cannot jeopardize our country's future by ducking the tough energy choices today. We must pay whatever the price is that is necessary to give us command of our own economic destiny.

Thank you very much.

REPORTER. Mr. President, did you run into any opposition at the meeting this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. We had a minimum of opposition. We had a greater understanding of the complexity of this problem. It was a very beneficial meeting in that there was this understanding and recognition that the energy problem had to be faced very squarely if we were to solve the problem of American independence and to get our own house in order so that we could protect ourselves from the vulnerability of foreign oil producers.

Thank you very much.

1 On July 16, 1975, Federal Energy Administrator Frank G. Zarb transmitted to the Congress the President's proposed amendment to Federal Energy Administration regulations providing for the gradual removal of price controls from domestic crude oil. The text of the proposed amendment is printed in the Federal Register of July 16, 1975 (40 FR 30030).

Note: The President spoke at 11:32 a.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks Announcing Proposed Compromise With the Congress on Decontrol of Domestic Oil Prices Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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