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Friday, November 07, 2008

american energy independence, 37 years and waiting.

With American President-Elect Barack Obama's team preparing to move into the White House, they've made one of their goals to achieve self-sufficiency in energy by eliminating current oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years. With this in mind, ask yourself if this sounds familiar...

...One month following the outbreak of the Yom Kippur Middle East war of October 1973, with the United States deep in the grip of Watergate fever compounded by the anxiety over the Arab oil boycott, former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon appeared on American television to prescribe strong medicine, his antidote for the energy crisis.

Nixon named it "Project Independence." The challenge facing the United States, he declared, was to regain the strength of self-sufficiency in energy. This was a key to Americans predominance among the nations. "Our ability to meet our own energy needs is directly linked to our continued ability to act decisively and independently at home and abroad in the service of peace, not only for America, bur for all nations in the world." Calling for "focused leadership" to achieve self-sufficiency by 1980, Nixon likened his challenge to earlier crash programs to develop the atomic bomb and to put a man on the moon. He went on to promise massive public funding for the exploration of American's remaining energy resources-Alaskan oil and gas, offshore oil reserves, nuclear energy and synthetic fuels from coal and oil shale....
Source: Pratt, Larry, The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil, Hurtig, Edmonton, Alberta. pp 49 - 50, 1976.

(h/t to Climateer Investing for the reminder)


still anonymous said...

It's funny that the minute you put something with substance up on your blog the anonymous comment chatter stops.

Pretty disappointing.

Ron Bengtson said...

Your post seems to say that if Nixon couldn't do it then there is no way Obama can.

It is true that Nixon did not live to see "Project Independence" become reality. But John F. Kennedy did not live to see a man walk on the moon.

In fact, the moon landing took place during Nixon's term, in 1969.

JFK's vision was passed on through Johnson and then to Nixon, where the dream became reality.

Nixon's vision of Energy Independence was passed on to Ford, and then to Carter where it "almost" became reality through the national Synthetic Fuels program. But unfortunately, the Saudi's and Iranians had other plans. The Iranian revolution favored Ronald Reagan and cost Carter a second term.

The U.S. Synthetic Fuels program, which grew as a "possibility" under Nixon through Ford and became a real program under Carter, was killed by Reagan... because Reagan wanted to import the cheap Middle East oil... which was cheap because the Saudi's and Iranians saw that the USA was serious about Synthetic Fuels, so they dropped the price of oil to below $10 per barrel.

If Obama learns from Reagan's short-sighted mistake, the USA, and the world can move on to "independence" from oil.

daveberta said...

"Your post seems to say that if Nixon couldn't do it then there is no way Obama can."

No, that's not what I had intended. The point of my post was more of a comment on how the same kind of talk was taking place 37 years ago, even as the debate today is being framed as something new and urgent.