Richard Nixon photo

Special Message to the Congress on the Energy Crisis.

January 23, 1974

To the Congress of the United States:

As the 93rd Congress reconvenes this week, it returns to an agenda that is piled high with vital legislative questions.

America is undergoing a period of rapid change and growth when decisions made in Washington could affect the patterns of our national life for the rest of this century. These decisions demand not only the collective wisdom of our national leadership but also a continuing spirit of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of our Government. In this first legislative message of 1974, I want to renew my pledge that I stand ready and eager to work with the Members of the Congress in shaping the solutions that are best for America.

In the next few weeks, I will send to the Congress a series of messages requesting swift legislative action in the areas where I feel that progress is most keenly needed. In each of these areas--health, education, transportation, natural resources, and others--these proposals reflect the best efforts of my Administration to solve a wide range of difficult domestic problems.

No single legislative area is more critical or more challenging to us as a people, however, than the subject of this first message to the Congress: The energy crisis. It is because of its importance and because of the urgent need for action that I have chosen to break tradition, outlining to the Congress my legislative requests in energy before delivering my State of the Union Address.

I first warned of approaching energy shortages in a message to the Congress in 1971--the first energy message ever presented by an American President 1. In 1973, an embargo was suddenly imposed upon many of our foreign supplies of oil, the crisis broke upon us, and the entire country took the first steps toward coping with the emergency. We have made solid progress since then, but it is clear that our efforts in 1973 were just the beginning. As our first order of business in the new year, therefore, let us resolve that 1974 shall be the year that we build a permanent framework for overcoming the energy crisis.

1 See 1971 volume, Item 195.

In the initial portion of this message, I want to report to the Congress on our progress over the last 'three months. The remainder of the message addresses the legislative program on which I am urging Congressional action in 1974:

--First, the proposals that I believe are essential to meet the short-term emergency, including:

• A special energy act that would permit restrictions on the private and public consumption of energy and would temporarily relax certain Clean Air Act requirements for power plants and automotive emissions;

• A windfall profits tax that would prevent private profiteering at the expense of public sacrifice;

• Unemployment insurance to help those who lose their jobs because of the energy crisis;

• And establishment of a Federal Energy Administration.

--Second, the legislative proposals that I have previously submitted in order to meet our long-range goal of achieving self-sufficiency in energy, including proposals that would:

• Allow market pricing of new natural gas;

• Allow temporary oil production from the Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve in California;

• Permit surface mining of coal in a manner that is environmentally safe;

• Permit the development of new deepwater port facilities offshore;

• Amend 'the tax laws regarding drilling investments;

• Modernize the laws regarding mineral leasing on Federal lands;

• And reorganize the executive branch so that it may deal more effectively with energy and natural resource problems.

--Third, proposals which are designed to help us achieve self-sufficiency in energy and which I am submitting to the Congress this year for the first time, including proposals that would:

• Eliminate depletion allowances for foreign oil and gas production;

• Accelerate the licensing and construction of nuclear facilities;

• Require labeling of products for energy efficiency;

• And streamline the site selection process for energy facilities.

In addition to these legislative proposals, the Administration is moving forward this year with a series of executive actions and studies relating to our long-term energy needs. The latter are addressed in the last section of the message.


Last year the United States consumed roughly 18 million barrels of petroleum, in one form or another, every day. This represented about one-half of our total energy consumption. The level of petroleum consumption was also rising, so that we expected demands to reach about 20 million barrels a day in 1974.

While the country is rich in natural resources, our production of petroleum resources is far less than our demands. Last year we were producing approximately 11 million barrels of petroleum a day, and the level of production was declining.

The difference between our demands and our domestic consumption must be made up, of course, by imports from abroad, reductions in demand, or increased domestic production. Even before the embargo on oil in the Middle East, our foreign supplies were barely adequate. Since the embargo, the shortage has become a good deal more serious. The Federal Energy Office has estimated that during the first three months of 1974, our imports will fall short of our normal demands by 2.7 million barrels a day. If the embargo continues, shortages could exceed three million barrels a day during the rest of the year. That shortfall is the major factor in our current emergency.


With the Nation confronting a severe energy shortage, I appealed to the public eleven weeks ago to undertake a major conservation effort on a personal, voluntary basis. My appeal was repeated by public servants across the land. The Congress acted quickly to pass laws putting the Nation on year-round daylight savings time and reducing the national highway speed limits to no more than 55 miles per hour. The Federal Government began moving swiftly to ensure that fuel supplies were allocated fairly and that conservation measures were undertaken within the Government. Most importantly, the people themselves responded positively, lowering the thermostats in their homes and offices, reducing their consumption of gasoline, cutting back on unnecessary lighting, and taking a number of other steps to save fuel.

Largely because of the favorable public response, I can report to the Congress today that we are making significant progress in conserving energy:

--Total consumption of gasoline in the United States during the month of December was nearly nine percent below expectations.

--Consumption of home heating oil has been reduced. A recent survey of 19,000 homes in New England showed they had reduced heating oil consumption by more than 16 percent under last year, after making adjustments for warmer weather.

--Utilities report that consumption of natural gas across the country has been reduced by approximately 6 percent over last year, while the consumption of electricity is down about 10 percent.

Beyond the progress we have made because of voluntary conservation, we have also been fortunate in two other respects. The weather in the last quarter of 1973 was warmer than usual, so that we did not consume as much fuel for heating as we expected. In addition, the oil embargo in the Middle East has not yet been totally effective, allowing us to import more oil than we first anticipated.


The Federal Government clearly has a major responsibility in helping to overcome the energy crisis. To fulfill that responsibility, several steps have been taken in the last three months:

--A major conservation program has been established and has cut consumption of energy by Federal agencies by more than 20 percent below anticipated demands in the third quarter of 1973.

--A sweeping investigation of fuel prices charged at gasoline stations and truck stops has been launched, putting an end to price gouging wherever it is found.

--A Federal Energy Office has been created to serve as a focal point for energy actions taken by the Government.

--Finally, a fuel allocation program has been set up to assure that no area of the Nation is subjected to undue hardships and to assure that in allocating fuel, the protection of jobs comes ahead of the satisfaction of comforts. As part of this allocation effort, refiners are being encouraged to produce less gasoline and more of the products that are needed in homes and industry, such as heating oil, diesel oil, residual fuel oil, and petrochemical feed-stocks. The Cost of Living Council has issued regulations to encourage the shift away from gasoline production. If necessary, additional steps will be taken to encourage shifts in refinery production.

The allocation program now underway will mean some cutbacks in travel, heating and other end uses of fuel, while uses which keep our economy operating at a high level will be permitted to remain at or above last year's levels.

Market forces are also at work allocating fuel. Due primarily to huge increases in prices for foreign oil, the price of gasoline has risen by 12 to 15 cents per gallon over last year. This obviously discourages the consumption of gasoline. Heating oil has also shown a comparable rise with similar effect.

There is a limit, however, to the amount of market allocation through higher prices which we will allow. We will not have consumers paying a dollar a gallon for gasoline. We must therefore seek to maximize the production of domestic oil at a price lower than the price of foreign oil. We will also carefully review requests for energy price increases, to ensure that they are genuinely needed.

All of the measures of conservation and allocation have greatly improved the Nation's chances of avoiding hardships this winter and gas rationing this spring. Gas rationing, with its attendant bureaucracy and cost to the taxpayer, should be only a last resort. Nevertheless, we are attempting to be prudent and therefore have developed a system of coupon rationing. The system is now on the record for public comment, and will be ready for use this spring should it prove necessary.

The system would provide for transferable coupons for all licensed drivers over 18 years old. The coupons, unlike the World War II coupons, would be freely transferable. Thus those who can economize and use less than their allotment would be given tangible incentive to do so, while those who seriously need larger amounts would be able to buy coupons legally.

The measures of allocation and conservation are, in the very short-run, the only actions which will have an effect in lessening the crisis. However, in the slightly longer term, we can and we are making efforts to increase domestic supplies of petroleum very rapidly.

Increases in supplies of domestic crude oil are necessary not only to assure supplies, but to keep the prices for consumers at a reasonable level. The prices charged by a foreign cartel for crude oil have risen so dramatically that U.S. oil prices are now greatly below the world market price.

To ensure that domestic oil exploration continues and grows, the price of oil from new exploration and development has been removed from Economic Stabilization Act controls. Also, to compensate for increased production costs and to stimulate advanced techniques for recovering oil, we have permitted a $1 per barrel increase in the cost of petroleum under existing oil contracts.

As a result, domestic oil wells that had been abandoned because they were no longer profitable are being put back into production, and new American oil is now beginning to come into the market. We anticipate additional increases in the oil in the future.

As a greater domestic production fills more of our oil needs, we will be demanding less foreign oil, and the price for foreign oil will not be driven upwards by our demands. Our own domestic production will tend to put a cap on the prices foreign suppliers may charge.

To deal further with the world shortage of oil and its increasingly unrealistic price levels, I have invited major consuming nations to a conference in Washington on February I I. The conference will, I hope, eventually lead to greater international cooperation in the areas of energy conservation, research, pricing policy, oil exploration, and monetary policy.



Although we have made significant progress over the last three months in reducing consumer demands for energy and in allocating fuel supplies, additional legislative measures must be enacted if we are to maintain our momentum. I am therefore asking that the Congress give its highest priority to five proposals which I have previously recommended for dealing with the short-term emergency:


The principal purposes of this legislation are to grant the executive branch authority to restrict the public and private consumption of energy and to modify certain Clean Air Act requirements.

During the closing weeks of December, both Houses of Congress labored long and hard on this emergency bill. As presently drafted in the House-Senate conference, the bill is laden with so many extraneous provisions that I would have difficulty signing it. I urge the Congress to pass a basic bill dealing with mandatory conservation, fuel conversion, rationing, and changes to the Clean Air Act. I would also urge that the extraneous provisions be placed in separate legislation where they belong.


The solution to the energy crisis must ultimately depend in large measure upon the response of the public, and their actions will in turn be based upon their recognition that an energy crisis actually exists and that it has not been contrived for the benefit of big business. For weeks, believing that the crisis is genuine, millions of Americans have made sacrifices in their comfort and convenience so that no Americans would have to suffer personal hardships. Those sacrifices are continuing today, and they will be needed in the future. It is up to the leaders of the Nation to ensure that the public trust is not abused.

As President, I am deeply committed to a firm policy: We must not permit private profiteering at the expense of public sacrifice. The sacrifices made by the American people must be for the benefit of all the people, not just for the benefit of big business. In equal measure, we must not permit the big oil companies or any other major domestic energy producers to manipulate the public by withholding information on their energy supplies. That information must be made available to the public, and it must be accurate and complete.

The windfall profits tax that I outlined last December and am again asking the Congress to pass would serve this policy by preventing major domestic energy producers from making unconscionable profits as a result of the entropy crisis. It would exact a tax of up to 85 percent on receipts from sales of crude oil above the ceiling set by the Cost of Living Council in December of 1973.



The energy emergency will undoubtedly result in some dislocation within the economy. Selected labor market areas may experience unusually large rises in unemployment despite our best efforts to minimize economic disruption. Jobs in those areas may become harder than usual to find. Therefore, as an integral part of the same philosophy which had led me to seek a windfall profits tax that prevents a few people from benefitting unduly from the energy emergency, I will also recommend new unemployment insurance measures to cushion American workers against the shocks of economic adjustment. Last April, I submitted legislation to improve the unemployment insurance program by increasing benefit levels and expanding coverage. I call again for the enactment of those measures. In addition, I will submit unemployment insurance amendments that would, on enactment, extend the duration of benefit entitlement and expand coverage in those labor market areas that experience significant increases in the level of unemployment. These provisions, coupled with the recently enacted Comprehensive Employment and Training Act will provide a solid foundation for the more rapid re-absorption of workers into the Nation's economy.


The information now provided to the public and to the Government by the energy industry is insufficient for public planning purposes. This is a serious deficiency which has understandably become a matter of intense public interest. To correct it, I will shortly submit legislation requiring major energy producers to provide to the Government a full and constant accounting of their inventories, their production and their reserves. Where required for national security or competitive purposes, confidentiality of the information will be protected. Most of this data, however, can and will be made available to the public.

To provide a focus for the collection and analysis of this data, I have directed the Federal Energy Office to establish an Energy Information Center. This center will coordinate energy data within the Government and provide the information to the public, the Congress and other Federal agencies.


FEA would bring together and significantly expand programs to deal with the current energy emergency. It would also carry out major new activities in energy resource development, energy information and energy conservation. Included within this agency would be the functions of the Offices of Petroleum Allocation, Energy Data and Analysis, Oil and Gas, and Energy Conservation from the Department of the Interior and the Energy Division of the Cost of Living Council.



Energy demand in the United States will certainly continue to rise. Were domestic oil production to continue to decline and demand continue to grow at over 4 percent annually, as it did before the embargo, imports would increase from 35 percent of U.S. consumption in 1973 to roughly half of U.S. consumption by 1980.

We must also face the fact that when and if the oil embargo ends, the United States will be faced with a different but no less difficult problem. Foreign oil prices have risen dramatically in recent months. If we were to continue to increase our purchase of foreign oil, there would be a chronic balance of payments outflow which, over time, would create a severe problem in international monetary relations.

Without alternative and competitive sources of energy here at home, we would thus continue to be vulnerable to interruptions of foreign imports and prices could remain at these cripplingly high levels. Clearly, these conditions are unacceptable.

To overcome this challenge, I announced last November 7 that the United States must embark upon a major effort to achieve self-sufficiency in energy, an effort I called Project Independence. If successful, Project Independence would by 1980 take us to a point where we are no longer dependent to any significant extent upon potentially insecure foreign supplies of energy.

Project Independence entails three essential concurrent tasks.

The first task is to rapidly increase energy supplies--maximizing the production of our oil, gas, coal and shale reserves by using existing technologies and accelerating the introduction of nuclear power. These important efforts should begin to pay off in the next 2 to 3 years. They will provide the major fraction of the increased supplies needed to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

The second task is to conserve energy. We must reduce demand by eliminating non-essential energy use and improving the efficiency of energy utilization. This must be a continuing commitment in the years ahead.

The third task is to develop new technologies through a massive new energy research and development program that will enable us to remain self-sufficient for years to come.

We cannot accept part of the overall program and ignore the others. Within the Federal sector, success will depend on a wide range of actions by many agencies. As an important part of that effort, the head of the Federal Energy Office, William Simon, will mount a major effort this year to accelerate the development of new energy supplies for the future.

Our strategy for Project Independence is reflected in urgent measures now pending in the Congress as well as many new legislative proposals and administrative actions I now plan to take.


Over the past three years, I have submitted a number of legislative proposals that are essential to our pursuit of energy self-sufficiency but are still awaiting final Congressional action. I ask that the 93rd Congress move ahead with these proposals, and I pledge the cooperation of this Administration in working out any differences. These proposals include the following:

Natural Gas Supply Act

The artificially low prices for natural gas created by Government regulations continue to create a double problem: consumers wish to purchase more of this cheap, clean fuel than is available, while suppliers have little incentive to develop it. I again ask the Congress to provide for competitive pricing of newly developed gas supplies in order to encourage new drilling and to direct available gas into the premium uses.

Although my deregulation proposal should not cause a significant rise in consumer prices for natural gas for some years, I recognize that there is a strong desire to provide added insurance that unreasonable price increases do not occur. This insurance can be provided by adding to the Administration's legislative proposal a provision authorizing the Federal Power Commission to establish limits on absolute price increases. We are prepared to work with the Congress on these changes.

Naval Petroleum Reserves

The Nation has vast oil and oil shale reserves which years ago were set aside for national defense purposes by placing them under the control of the Secretary of the Navy. That action was taken at a time when naval petroleum requirements were 'an especially important share of total national petroleum consumption. Some of these oil reserves, principally those located in Wyoming and California, have been explored and developed to the point where limited production is possible. The largest reserve, located in Alaska, has not been significantly explored or developed and could not be available for production for several years, even in a grave national emergency. I have proposed legislation that would greatly improve the availability of the reserves for future needs and would permit limited production from the Elk Hills Reserve in California to assist in meeting our short-term energy problems.

In accordance with law, the Secretary of the Navy has issued and I have approved a finding that production of oil from Naval Petroleum Reserve #1 (Elk Hills) is necessary for national defense purposes. Approval of the Congress is also necessary and I have proposed legislation that would give such Congressional approval. It would also provide that funds from the sale or exchange of the oil could be used for further exploration and development of Elk Hills and for exploration of Naval Petroleum Reserve #4 in Alaska. I am pleased that the Senate has already passed this legislation, and I am hopeful that immediate action will now be taken by the House of Representatives.

Mined Area Protection

A Mined Area Protection Act is needed to encourage the development of State programs which permit the mining of coal and other minerals to go forward in a way that is environmentally safe. The absence of clear legislation in this area is inhibiting the development of our coal reserves. The Senate has passed a bill, but it deals only with surface mining of coal rather than all mining and it contains provisions which would actually impede production of coal.

The House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs is scheduled to take up the matter soon and I am hopeful that it will act favorably on the Administration's proposal.

Deepwater Port Facilities

Even though our policy is to achieve self-sufficiency, we will clearly continue to import oil as long as it is available at reasonable prices. To enable us to import fuel more economically, I have proposed Federal Government licensing of the construction and operation of deepwater port facilities three miles or more at sea on the Outer Continental Shelf. The main use of these facilities would be to import crude oil in ships that are economically and environmentally desirable, but are too deep of draft to permit their entry into our port facilities on the East and Gulf Coasts.

This legislation would also eliminate many of the legal uncertainties which now drive private investors away from American waters and to other nations of the Western Hemisphere. The present system only serves to create investments and jobs abroad and raises our costs of imported oil, already high, even further.

Drilling Investment Credit

Last April I proposed that the investment credit provisions of present tax laws be extended to provide a credit for all exploratory drilling for new oil and gas fields. Approval of this provision would provide an essential incentive for new oil and gas exploration. At the same time, I am asking the Congress to eliminate the tax shelter that now exists for wealthy taxpayers who reduce their taxes by taking deductions for investments in oil drilling.

Mineral Leasing Act

The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 governs the exploration and production of oil, gas, coal, and other minerals on Federal lands while the Mining Act of 1872, governs the exploration and mining for "hard-rock" (gold, silver, copper, etc.) minerals. Both acts have become obsolete. Last February, I proposed a 'bill that would place all mineral exploration and mining activities on Federal lands under a single Federal leasing system. The bill would assure that the persons who obtain the leases are those who have an interest in early exploration for oil, gas, and other minerals. It would also require that exploration meet the environmental standards of the Administration's proposed Mined Area Protection Act.

Organizing the Federal Energy Effort

If the Federal Government is to achieve prompt and productive results in the energy field, its many energy programs and resources must 'be organized in the best possible manner. Toward this end, I have submitted several organizational proposals to the Congress and urged their prompt adoption. One calls for establishment of the Federal Energy Administration as discussed above. The others call for statutory establishment of the following:

(1) Energy Research and Development Administration:

This new organization would provide unified leadership and direction for energy technology programs at the Federal level. ERDA would include the research and development as well as the production functions of the Atomic Energy Commission, along with selected energy research and development functions of the Department of the Interior, the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Under this proposal, the five-member Atomic Energy Commission would be renamed the Nuclear Energy Commission and would carry out the vital task of licensing and regulating the rapidly growing use of nuclear power.

(2) Department of Energy and Natural Resources:

As the longer-run solution to the many interrelated problems in the energy and natural resources area, I have proposed the establishment of this new department. DENR would incorporate most of the responsibilities of the Department of the Interior; the activities of the Forest Service and certain water resource functions of the Department of Agriculture; the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce; the water resource planning functions of the Corps of Engineers; the gas pipeline safety functions of the Department of Transportation, and the Water Resources Council. Drawn together, these responsibilities would form the basis of a modern department truly capable of providing a much needed balance between the wise utilization and careful conservation of our Nation's precious natural resources.

Because of the energy crisis, I urge that the Congress give priority attention to the creation of FEA and ERDA. Because of its comprehensive scope, DENR may require additional examination by the Congress, but I reaffirm the need for this modern Cabinet department. Once DENR is established, it should incorporate the functions of ERDA and FLA.


In addition to the legislation now pending before the Congress still further steps must be taken if we are to progress at a proper pace toward self-sufficiency. Within the next several weeks, I will be sending to the Congress a number of legislative proposals to help us take those steps, including:

Changes in Foreign Tax Treatment

U.S. companies that produce oil overseas have been granted the same 22 percent depletion allowance abroad that is granted to U.S. companies producing oil in the United States. Both allowances provide an incentive for oil production.

As we move toward U.S. self-sufficiency in energy, however, we want to encourage greater development of U.S. energy resources rather than foreign resources. I am therefore asking the Congress to eliminate these foreign depletion allowances, while retaining the depletion allowance for domestic oil production.

Taxes paid to foreign governments by U.S. oil companies drilling abroad have increased dramatically. There is growing concern about the degree to which such increases should be allowed as credits against U.S. tax on other income. Under these circumstances, it is no longer realistic to treat these payments to foreign governments entirely as income taxes creditable against the U.S. tax. Obviously, however, the oil producing countries, like any other country, have the right to impose taxes and some reasonable portion of those taxes should be creditable. I have asked the Treasury Department to prepare proposals which would cause part of these amounts to be designated as a creditable tax and the balance to be allowed solely as a deduction.

Accelerating the Licensing and Construction of Nuclear Facilities

Nuclear power, which lessens our dependence on foreign fuel, is an essential part of our program of achieving energy self-sufficiency. At present, however, it takes 9-10 years to complete the planning, licensing, and construction of nuclear power plants. In order to get vitally needed nuclear power on-line more rapidly, I have directed that steps be taken to reduce the licensing and construction cycle to 5-6 years, without compromising safety and environmental standards.

I will soon transmit a legislative proposal to expedite the completion of nuclear power plants by separating the approval process for plant sites from the reactor licensing process and by encouraging the use of standardized plant designs. These designs, once approved, would reduce the required licensing review time and would enhance safety. This legislation would also permit the establishment of an inventory of approved sites for nuclear plants.

Efficiency Labels

Energy conservation must play a major role in achieving self-sufficiency, but few of the products we now purchase clearly indicate how much energy they require to operate. To assure that such information is available, I will shortly submit to the Congress legislation requiring that all major appliances and automobiles produced or imported into the United States be clearly labeled to indicate their energy use and energy efficiency.

Energy Facilities Siting

The present multitude of Federal, State, and local approvals required for the construction of energy facilities has caused serious delays in their availability. There is also no provision for advanced approval of sites which will be needed in the future. In addition, the public has often been frustrated because public participation in the site approval process seldom occurs early enough to affect the basic siting decision.

In 1971 I requested legislation to overcome these problems for electrical power plants and transmission lines. I resubmitted similar legislation in February 1973, but the Congress has not acted on my proposal. I have now directed that new legislation be prepared, building upon my earlier proposals but covering additional critical energy facilities. This legislation will be directed toward:

--advanced approval of adequate sites for energy facilities on a regional basis;

--better coordination of the various approvals now required by all levels of Government;

--and improved long range planning of energy facility requirements.

Changes in the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act has provided the basis for major improvements in air quality and we must continue our progress toward even greater improvement. However, during the current energy shortage, it has become clear that some changes in the act are needed to provide greater flexibility in deadlines and other requirements. The special energy legislation now before the Congress would permit temporary relaxation in some requirements applicable to power plants when an adequate supply of clean energy is not available. It would also extend the deadlines for the reduction of emissions from automobiles. I hope the Congress will move quickly to grant authority for temporary relaxation of requirements and freezing the standards for auto emissions--now applicable to 1975 model cars--for two additional years. This latter action will permit auto manufacturers to concentrate greater attention on improving fuel economy while retaining a fixed target for lower emissions. These changes can be made without significantly adverse effect on our progress in improving air quality.

The Congress has also been advised by the Environmental Protection Agency of evidence demonstrating that the reductions of nitrogen oxides from automobiles as required by the Glean Air Act are unnecessarily stringent and that technology to achieve the reductions is not yet practicable. In addition, the Congress has been advised by the Environmental Protection Agency that deadlines cannot be met for meeting air quality standards in some metropolitan areas without drastically curtailing the use of motor vehicles. For instance, these deadlines would require that motor vehicle usage in Los Angeles be reduced by as much as 87 percent.

An extensive review is now underway within the executive branch of the implications of court decisions which require that EPA act to prevent "significant deterioration" of air quality--a requirement that is not defined in either the law or court decisions. This matter has far-reaching implications for public policy regarding land use as well as air quality. Changes in the law may thus be required to deal with this problem, and we will consult with the Congress as appropriate.

We must continue to assess the impact of actions required by the Clean Air Act so that there will be a basis for sound decisions that provide an appropriate balance among our objectives for environmental quality, economic and social growth, energy supply and national security.



In addition to preparing the legislative proposals above, I have directed that a number of executive actions be taken and additional legislative studies be made which could help us to succeed with Project Independence. Among these actions are the following:


The undiscovered oil and gas beneath our Outer Continental Shelf can provide a significant portion of the energy necessary to make us self-sufficient. I have already ordered leasing in that area to be stepped up. Today I am directing the Secretary of the Interior to increase the acreage leased on the Outer Continental Shelf to I O million acres beginning in 1975, more than tripling what had originally 'been planned. In later years, the amount of acreage to be leased will be based on market needs and on industry's record of performance in exploring and developing leases. In contracting for leases, the Secretary of the Interior is also to ensure that the proper competitive bidding procedures are followed and that environmental safeguards are observed. He will, in addition, set up an interagency program for monitoring the environmental aspects of the new leasing program. There will be no decision on leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Alaska until the Council on Environmental Quality completes its current environmental study of those areas.


In 1973, the Congress passed the Alaskan pipeline bill, allowing the construction of a vitally needed oil pipeline. The Secretary of the Interior plans to issue the construction permit for that pipeline this afternoon, and construction should begin this year.

It has long been clear that while an oil pipeline was needed, it alone would not be enough. In addition to the huge oil reserves in the North Slope of Alaska, there are also gas reserves there of at least 26 trillion cubic feet--enough to heat 10 million homes for 20 years. Construction of a gas pipeline should thus accompany the construction of the oil pipeline. What is now needed, and what I am directing, is prompt action by the Administration. Interior Secretary Morton expects to receive two competing applications for the gas pipeline in the near future, one proposing construction across Alaska and the other proposing construction across Canada. I have asked the Secretary to consider these proposals carefully but promptly and to deliver a recommendation to me as soon as possible. I have also asked the Secretary to undertake a further study of the need for future oil and gas pipeline capacity and the best routes for new pipelines should they prove necessary.



At current rates of consumption, our coal reserves could supply our needs for 300 years while shale oil could satisfy an additional 150 years of demand. However, these resources are not easily recoverable, or usable in a manner that is environmentally acceptable. Therefore, the development of a domestic synthetic fuels industry--the production of oil from shale and the production of gas or oil from coal--can be an important element of our program for reducing our future dependence on energy imports.

The recent bidding for the first commercial oil shale lease indicates strong commercial interest in shale oil development. Five other lease offerings of Federal oil shale lands will be made this year. Several companies have also announced plans to construct plants for the production of commercially usable gas from coal. Nevertheless, a variety of factors including environmental, economic, technical, and regulatory problems impose constraints on any major increase in the commercial production and industrial use of synthetic fuels. I have therefore asked the Administrator of the Federal Energy Office to head up an interagency evaluation of financial or economic incentives or regulatory changes that may be needed to stimulate domestic production.


There are now several products on the market which, if given wider use, might help us to use energy more efficiently and could conceivably reduce air pollution. Among them are chemical catalysts and additives, attachments for automobile engines and more efficient heat transfer devices for industrial and home furnaces. Previously, these products have not been commercially profitable because of the low price of fuel. With an increase in fuel prices, however, they have become more attractive. I have therefore directed the Federal Energy Office to collect information on these products and on their energy efficiency. As results are available, we will publicize them and, where appropriate, will purchase the products for use by the Government.


It is widely recognized now that the development of better mass transit systems may be one of the key solutions to both our energy and environmental problems. My budget for fiscal year 1975, which will be sent to the Congress in the next two weeks, gives special priority to the improvement of urban transportation, especially transit bus fleets. In addition, I will soon propose legislation to increase the amount and flexibility of Federal transportation aid which is available to local communities.


Nowhere will the need for the combined efforts of industry and Government be greater than in energy research and development. If we are to see the successful culmination of Project Independence, the Federal Government must work in partnership with American industry.

For the last five years, I have provided for a continual expansion of our efforts in energy research and development. Federal funding increased almost 75 percent from $382 million in fiscal year 1970 to $672 million in fiscal year 1973 and was then raised to $1 billion for fiscal year 1974. Last June I announced my commitment to an even more rapid acceleration of this effort through a $10 billion Federal program over the next five years, and I asked the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission to develop recommendations for the expanded program.

Today I am announcing that in fiscal year 1975--the first year of my proposed five year, energy R&D program--total Federal commitment for direct energy research and development will be increased to $1.8 billion, almost double the level of a year ago. In addition, I will be requesting an increase of $216 million for essential supporting programs in basic and environmental effects research.

Regardless of short-term fluctuations in the energy supplies, our Nation must move swiftly and steadily on a course to self-sufficiency. The private sector clearly must provide most of the money and the work for this effort. We must also guard against Government expenditures which merely replace private sector investments. But the Federal Government does have a role to play in supplementing and accelerating private development and in filling major technological gaps where market incentives are lacking. The Federal expenditures which I am announcing today are designed to serve those purposes.

In pursuing our energy R&D program, we must maintain balance. We cannot afford to direct all our efforts to finding long-term solutions while ignoring our immediate problems, nor can we concentrate too strongly on finding short-range solutions. Our program must be structured to provide us with payoffs in the near, middle, and far term.

For the near term--the period before 1985--we must develop advanced technologies in mining and environmental control that will permit greater direct use of our coal reserves. We must speed the widespread introduction of nuclear power. And we must direct work to develop more efficient, energy-consuming devices, for use in both home and industry.

Beyond 1985, we can expect considerable payoffs from our programs in nuclear breeder reactors and in advanced technologies for the production of clean synthetic fuels from coal. By this time, we should also have explored the potential of other resources such as solar and geothermal energy.

For the far term, our programs in nuclear fusion, advanced breeder reactors, hydrogen generation and solar electric power appear to be the ultimate keys to our energy future.


Although shortages were long in appearing, the energy crisis itself came suddenly, borne by a tragic war in the Middle East. It was a blow to American pride and prosperity, but it may well turn out to be a fortunate turning point in our history.

We learned, at a stage short of the truly critical, that we had allowed ourselves to become overly dependent upon foreign supplies of a vital good. We saw that the acts of foreign rulers, even far short of military action, could plunge us into an authentic crisis. The Arab oil embargo ;viii temporarily close some gasoline stations, but it has opened our eyes to the short-sighted policy we had been pursuing.

The energy emergency has shown us that we must never again be caught so dependent upon uncertain supplies. It is a lesson the American people must and will take to heart. By 1980, if we move forward with the proposals I have outlined today, I believe we can place ourselves in a position where we can be essentially independent of foreign energy producers.

America has half the world's reserves of coal. It has billions of barrels of oil in the ground, as well as convertible oil shale. It has vast natural gas reserves. We have the world's largest installed nuclear capacity and half the world's hydroelectric plants. This represents a truly enormous store of energy.

The United States also has the largest pool of highly trained scientific talent in the world. Our managerial skills in the private sector are enormous. And our organized facilities for solving technical problems in universities, businesses, and government are unparalleled.

I have no doubt that the bringing together of these natural and human resources can propel us toward an era of energy independence.

It will take time. But along the way we will assure that no groups of Americans are better off because other groups are suffering. We will assure that the genius of the free enterprise system is maintained and not destroyed by its response to this crisis.

Years from now, let us look back upon the energy crisis of the 1970s as a time when the American spirit reasserted itself for the lasting benefit of America and the world.


The White House,

January 23, 1974.

Richard Nixon, Special Message to the Congress on the Energy Crisis. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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