Tokyo, Japan Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the OPEC Oil Price Increase.
THE PRESIDENT. The OPEC nations have just increased their price again by an extraordinary amount. The cumulative effect of these increases has been a 60-percent increase in the price of oil since last December. This causes an economic watershed for the United States and also for the rest of the world. There is no one on Earth who will fail to suffer from these extraordinary increases in oil prices.
So far, we in the United States have failed to prepare ourselves for these actions by OPEC. Between 1973 and 1977, the United States took no action to deal with the inevitable increases in oil prices and the inevitable decreases in the supply of oil.
In 1977 I proposed to the Congress a comprehensive energy plan. Until this moment, the Congress has passed no legislation concerning oil. It is absolutely imperative that Congress act without delay to pass the windfall profits tax and to establish the energy security fund.
I have decided to cut short my own visit to foreign countries to go back home, arriving late Sunday, to encourage the Congress to act more expeditiously on the legislation I've already described and also to pass legislation authorizing the production of synthetic fuels and other energy supplies to make our country more selfsufficient, more immune from the damaging effect of outside decisions from OPEC and others.
In addition, I'll be meeting with my own advisers to see what other action can be taken within the next few months to protect our country from future actions such as these I've just described.
Domestic energy supplies must be increased. Oil, gas, coal, synthetic fuels, liquefied and gasified coal supplies, solar energy—these actions must be taken, and without further delay. We must invest literally billions of dollars in these technological advancements, and the money is available to us with the windfall profits tax and the establishment of the energy security fund.
It's been estimated that by the end of 1980, the OPEC price increases in the last 6 months will cost our Nation at least 2 percent in increased inflation and at least a 2-percent decrease in the rate of growth of the economy of the United States.
Our country is able to be self-sufficient. We have the technological ability, we have the finances, we have the natural resources. It's imperative that we act expeditiously. It's imperative that we cooperate with one another. It's necessary for us to be determined, bold, aggressive, and also that we are creative and that the Americans harness the tremendous resources of our country in the most effective and efficient and cooperative fashion.
There is no other threat to our life in America so important as these economic threats that not only weaken our Nation's structure but also endanger our own security in the future. My belief is that now the American people are aroused and the Congress is aroused enough to act without delay. This will be my major purpose when I return to the United States in just a few days.
Thank you very much.
Q. Mr. President, is there any economic or other type of retaliatory action we and our partners could take directly against OPEC?
THE PRESIDENT. The most important single thing that can be done on a multinational basis is what has been under consideration here in Tokyo for the last 2 days. My prediction is that the major Western allies, those who are assembled here for the economic summit, will act aggressively and without precedent to cut down on our imports and our dependence on OPEC oil. This will have a major stabilizing effect. So, with multilateral approach here in eliminating waste, cutting down on imports, investing jointly to produce new supplies of energy based on new technologies—that will be a major step on a multinational basis. But I think the major responsibility is on us to act within the United States.
Q. Mr. President, have you been in touch with other leaders since the price increase has been announced to see what their reaction is?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I discussed this announcement with the other leaders last night. We had a good indication of what it would be, and I think that I can say that they all share my deep concern about the economic consequences of it. But there are two phases that must be addressed: One is the multinational phase, where we work together on technology and to cut down demand for OPEC oil; and the second and obviously the most direct responsibility is for the United States to act on its own. We must do both.
Q. Mr. President, do you think there will be any effect on the dollar—immediate effect on the dollar or any kind of shifting away by the oil companies to other countries?
THE PRESIDENT. My belief is that the prospective OPEC price increase has already been assimilated by the international monetary markets. If we act boldly and aggressively here in Tokyo, which I believe we will do today, that should help to stabilize the dollar.
Q. What will the consequences be of continued congressional inaction on energy?
THE PRESIDENT. The same consequences that we've already suffered. The Congress has not acted for the last 2 years on any legislation that affects oil. I've just gotten a report from the Vice President a few minutes ago that the House finally passed the windfall profits tax. It must now go to the Senate. But for the last 2 years, the Congress has passed no legislation concerning oil. The windfall profits tax, when passed, the establishment of the energy security fund will give us a substantial reservoir of financing for the creation of synthetic fuels, the movement on solar energy, the liquefaction and gasification of coal, and other actions that can make us more energy self-sufficient.
Q. Is there anything immediate you can do to reduce the gas lines in the United States?
THE PRESIDENT. My information is that in the next few weeks—hopefully sooner—there will be an increase in supply of gasoline to the affected areas. The oil companies and the Department of Energy—and I talked to the Vice President this morning—all agree that the percentage of gasoline being allotted in the affected areas will be increased to about 97 percent 1 of what it was last year, a much better supply than we have experienced the last couple of weeks.
Thank you very much.
1 On the same day, the White House Press Secretary issued the following notice to the press.
For your information on the President's statement and questions and answers this morning—
After reviewing the briefing material provided to the President, it appears that it is more accurate to speak of an increase to a range of 95 percent to 97 percent of last year's supply of gasoline, rather than the 97 percent figure which the President used.
You should note, however, that the President is committed as a primary goal to take the necessary steps to prevent a shortage of home heating oil. It could become necessary to reduce the amount of gasoline being produced this summer to avoid running out of oil to heat our homes this winter.
To make sure there is no misunderstanding, the President also asks that I relay to you this comment:
"Even if we reach the 97 percent figure, there is no guarantee that gasoline lines will end without significant conservation efforts. We will still have a substantial shortfall compared to projected demand, and the amount of gasoline available to the average motorist will be reduced by the necessity of providing priorities to such essential users as ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles."
For your additional information, to reach the 95 percent to 97 percent figure, it will be necessary for oil companies to draw down their crude stocks by about 20 million barrels, as we have asked them to do. It will also be necessary for crude oil imports to continue to average 6.2 million barrels per day or better, which is consistent with import levels over the past 3 weeks and with our IEA pledge to reduce consumption by 5 percent compared to projected demand.
Note: The President spoke at 7:27 a.m. outside the U.S. Ambassador's residence.
Following his remarks, the President left for the French Embassy for breakfast with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
Earlier at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries set a price ceiling for petroleum of $23.50 per barrel.
Jimmy Carter, Tokyo, Japan Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the OPEC Oil Price Increase. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249239