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Remarks on Signing a Bill Authorizing the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline

November 16, 1973

I want to congratulate all of the Members of the House and Senate that are here, as well as members of the Administration, for their support of this legislation.

It has a couple of clinkers in it, as you know--shall we say, riders--that I would very much like to see removed. However, I thought that the importance of dealing with the energy crisis was so great that that had to override my objections to the amendments.

I will, of course, ask the Congress in its wisdom to consider the possibility of considering the two riders separately in legislation and then possibly removing them. Could I have your support, Senator?

SENATOR HENRY M. JACKSON. You will have my consideration.

THE PRESIDENT. That is a Senator's way of saying no. [Laughter]

There is the bill. I would like to give it to one of you, but that has to go to the Archives. So, under the circumstances, it has to go here in this little box.

The Alaska pipeline is on its way. The environment will be saved, right?


THE PRESIDENT. No problem.

Mark, you are an environmentalist, right?


THE PRESIDENT. You have no problems on the pipeline?

SENATOR HATFIELD. No great problems.

THE PRESIDENT. NO great problems. That is a way of saying there could be.

I want to say that this is the first piece of legislation in this area that we have. I am glad that with Senator Jackson's leadership and others in the House and the Senate---I mention both Republicans and Democrats--that we trust that before the session is completed, we can have action on some of the other matters.

And I understand that is quite possible; is it not?


THE PRESIDENT. What do you think we can get, Senator?

SENATOR JACKSON. We have the mandatory allocations bill which I presume you are about ready to sign.


SENATOR JACKSON. And of the next, we are right now, at this moment, we are going back to vote on amendments in connection with the authority that you need to deal with the developing shortages. We will pass that by, say, Monday.

Then, we will be reporting to the Senate the research and development bill.

THE PRESIDENT. Right. That is long-term, though.

SENATOR JACKSON. That is right. That is a 10-year program of $2 billion a year, comparable to what you have proposed on a 5-year. It is the same thing.

And then, we have the strategic reserve bill. So, there will be five bills.


SENATOR JACKSON. Yes. We have got some problems on Elk Hills that we have to work out. We are working on that. I have been talking to Mel Laird. He may have to go over to the Defense Department again to resume duties for a temporary period.

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to be down to see Uncle Carl Vinson, Sunday. SENATOR JACKSON. I will be there, too. Mr. President, may I just say that we want to thank you. We have our party differences from time to time, but we are all determined to proceed on a full bipartisan basis with the energy program. We are doing this.

I might mention that when we had the emergency bill up for markup for amendments, we did something that doesn't happen very often, that is, we had Governor Love's representatives, Interior representatives, and all the other representatives participating in the markup, amending the bill.

And we are proceeding on a bipartisan basis to demonstrate to the world that we are going to meet this problem and that we can meet it. I just wanted to give you that assurance and I know that I can help.

REPRESENTATIVE CRAIG HOSMER. Mr. President, I think you ought to know that we are also proceeding on a bicameral basis on the House side on a lot of these things, too. It is not only on the other side.

SENATOR CLIFFORD P. HANSEN. Mr. President, Dr. Pecora's widow, who is here today, and who received the first pen, deserves our special attention because it was he, a number of years ago, who pointed out the fact that this Nation was headed in a direction that would spell nothing but crisis for us.1

He called a long time ago for us to do something about supply, and I am sure Mrs. Pecora is very pleased today to be here to see you take this action, which will implement a very major step forward in doing something about increasing supply.

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I want to say, Mrs. Pecora, that it was your husband who was the moving force behind the first energy message ever sent to the Congress by a President of the United States, which was, of course, 2 years ago in 1971. I really should have called it the Pecora message, but now we see some of the beginnings.

I also would like to say, as I tried to emphasize yesterday, that there is a tendency sometimes for us when we talk about a crisis or a problem to get very excited, and after you make the presentation to the Congress or on television, and then to sort of forget about it and think about what the next crisis may be.

I want to emphasize very strongly that because of the progress, and it has been real progress, that we have made in the Mideast, because of the possibility, and it is still just a possibility, but it is, I think, a reasonable possibility that at some time in the future we can see some change with regard to some of the Arab oil-producing countries and their attitude toward exporting to the United States and to Europe, which affects us indirectly because of the residuals that Europe sends to us.

While that can happen, even if it happened tomorrow, we would still have an energy crisis for this year. That is a thing we have to remember. That is why it seems to me that as we move on the Alaska pipeline, which deals with the longer range problem, it is not going to help us with our automobile fuel this year or with our power or anything else this year, but it will in the years ahead.

But as we think of the energy crisis, let us handle it this year. It will require some sacrifice by all, and no suffering by any. But beyond that, let us think primarily of the greater goal, and that is, the goal of what I call "Project Independence 1980." That is a realistic goal.

By 1980, the United States of America can be and must be independent of any reliance upon any foreign source for its energy, because energy is essential for everything that we do. And in this connection, that is why we must move forward in the nuclear field.

We have got to move forward in the natural gas field, recognizing its controversy, the deregulation there under some proper circumstances to protect the consumer, and we have got to move forward particularly in the coal field, where we have half the coal in the world, and have to have ways to extract it that will not despoil the environment, and also to clean it up so that once it is used, it will not then have an adverse effect on the environment.

I will just say finally that as we sign this bill, I know that much of the reason for the delay was concern by very fine people in Alaska about the environment. Remember, I was there the time I met the Emperor of Japan. The President is always met with a few signs when he arrives at a place, and in this case there were quite a few signs, some friendly and some unfriendly, but all, of course, in the great American tradition.

There were a number of young people there who said, "Don't build the Alaska pipeline. Don't build it because it is going to spoil the environment in Alaska."

Now, we have looked into this problem. Rogers Morton and I had long talked about it, and he has given me his assurance that this is going to be built in a way that is not going to despoil the environment.

What I mean to say is this: The goal is not simply self-sufficiency for 1980 for energy, using nuclear power, coal power, shale oil, as well as gas and, of course, our own oil resources, and anything else that we may be able to develop in that period--something nobody has ever thought of perhaps may come along. But the point is that by 1980 we want this country to be one where we have all the energy we need to create the jobs and to heat our homes and to light them and to move us along our highways or on our railbeds, or whatever the case might be.

We want enough energy so that America is not dependent on any other country. But we want this to be a beautiful country, and we can have both. So, it is clean energy we are talking about.

That is why the research and development effort, Scoop [Senator Jackson], which you have supported so heavily and so many of the rest of you, has to go forward right along. It is clean energy and enough of it in 1980 so that we are independent of the world.

So, we thank you.

SENATOR PAUL J. FANNIN. Mr. President, we are moving forward on a bipartisan basis. But we certainly don't want to mislead anyone that we are not having our problems in getting some of the programs carried forward that you have advocated.

We are going to need your help and the help of the members of your Administration to do exactly what you have stated today and that is some relaxation as far as EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] is concerned, the utilization of coal, and many other factors that are involved, and without those programs, we will not achieve the goal that you have outlined.

THE PRESIDENT. We have to tackle, on a short-range basis, the environmental problem. I am sorry that it has to be done. I am sorry, for example, that we are going to have to continue to use coal when we could use oil, which is a cleaner fuel. I am sorry that we are going to ask some companies that have converted to oil to convert back to coal because we have more of it.

But at this point, we have to have the energy. That has to come first. As far as the Environmental Protection Agency is concerned, it will, of course, cooperate on a short-term basis, having in mind that in the long term, we can have both the clean environment and enough energy.

So, having made my speech to you--I made the same talk to a number of Congressmen this morning--I simply want to say that I think that for the Congress not to act before its recess on those matters that are urgent--I am not referring to those things that are impossible, Scoop--

SENATOR JACKSON. I understand.

THE PRESIDENT. but on those matters that are urgent, I think, for the Congress not to act would be a very great letdown for the American people.

I don't mean that the Congress can solve it, but without the Congress, it is impossible to solve it. We will work with you. I will stay here just as long as the Congress will let me stay.

1 Dr. William T. Pecora, a research scientist with the Geological Survey in the Department of the Interior for more than 30 years, was Under Secretary of the Interior from 1971 until his death in 1972.

Note: The exchange of remarks began at 10: 20 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. As enacted, the bill (S. 1081) is Public Law 93-153 (87 Stat. 576).

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Signing a Bill Authorizing the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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