October 13, 1977 – Still in the middle of an energy crisis, contemplating rationing, pointing fingers and trying to find a solution. So on this day, President Carter took it to the Press:
President Carter: “Back in April when a national energy policy was presented to the Congress and to the people, I said that because of the importance of it that this was a moral equivalent of war. I haven’t changed my mind. In fact, the seriousness of the energy crisis is even more acute than it was then.
But as is the case in time of war, there is potential war profiteering in the impending energy crisis. This could develop, with the passing months, as the biggest rip-off in history. And the issues involved here are extremely important. We live in a nation and we believe in the free enterprise system where market forces determine prices. But the oil and gas industry is not part of that system because prices are not free. They are heavily influenced by decisions made outside our country by the OPEC nations, and they are heavily influenced by some control over the rate of production by American companies. And there’s an inevitable increasing shortage of oil and gas, which we all recognize, I believe, without dispute.
Prices have gone up drastically in the last few years. They are going to go up some more. That also is inevitable. But the question is: Who will profit from these prices and to what degree?
The package that was presented to the Congress in April is fair. It’s well-balanced. It assures that the American people are not robbed. It also ensures that the oil companies get enough incentive to ensure adequate exploration and production. But the oil companies apparently want it all.
And we are talking about enormous amounts of money. Never before in our history has this much money been involved in a decision controlled by Government policy and by legislation.
The struggle is intense. It’s going to go on for a long time. But the basic question is going to be resolved within the next few weeks in the Congress.
Now, the oil companies deserve incentive, and our proposals have been both fair and they have been adequately generous. In 1973, for instance, just before the OPEC price rise and the oil embargo, the oil and gas industries had an income of $18 billion. Under our proposal, by 1985 their annual income would be,..bout $100 billion, an enormous increase. What the oil companies and gas companies are now demanding–and making some progress-is $150 billion. The difference will not encourage increased production of oil. But that difference will come out of the pockets of the American consumers and go into the pockets of the oil companies themselves.
Our proposal, if adopted, would give the oil companies, the producers themselves, the highest prices for oil in all the world. But still they want more.
If we deregulate natural gas prices, then the price will go to 15 times more than natural gas prices were before the oil embargo. These billions and billions of dollars are at stake; whether that money should be given partially to the oil companies to encourage production and partially to the American people in a fair way or whether it should all be grabbed by the oil companies at the expense of the American consumer.”
The above is an excerpt from his opening statement – click on the player and dive into the whole Press conference.
Ah, the 70s . . .