177. Editorial Note

In the spring and early summer of 1973, President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, delivered major addresses on energy issues. On April 18, President Nixon delivered a broad-ranging special message to the Congress on U.S. energy policy. He stated that in determining how the United States should expand and develop its resources in natural gas, coal and oil, and in nuclear power, “we must take into account not only our economic goals, but also our environmental goals and our national security goals. Each of these areas is profoundly affected by our decisions concerning energy. If we are to maintain the vigor of our economy, the health of our environment, and the security of our energy resources, we must strike the right balance among these priorities.” After listing the accomplishments since his first Presidential address in 1971 (see Document 90), Nixon addressed domestic and foreign oil issues.

In the domestic section of this special message, Nixon noted that the Alaska pipeline, which had been delayed due to outmoded legal [Page 453] restrictions on the width of the right of way for the proposed pipeline, could provide two millions barrels a day, an amount equal to one-third of U.S. import levels. He urged Congress to move on the Alaska pipeline. He also argued that nuclear energy was “the major alternative to fossil fuel energy for the remainder of this century” and required sustained congressional and private support.

In the section on foreign oil, Nixon stated that to avert a short-term fuel shortage and keep fuel costs as low as possible, “it will be necessary for us to increase fuel imports.” But to reduce long-term reliance on imports, he wanted to encourage the exploration and development of U.S. domestic oil and refineries. To accomplish these goals, Nixon abandoned the Mandatory Oil Import Program, which he said was “of virtually no benefit any longer.” Rather, it aggravated the U.S. supply problem, denied the United States flexibility in import requirements, and depressed new drilling and refinery construction. To redress these issues, Nixon removed all existing tariffs on imported crude oil and products and suspended control over the quantity of crude and refined products imported into the United States. He stated that this new system would “contribute to our national security.”

Nixon also embarked on an energy conservation program, and reorganized the federal bureaucracy to better handle energy issues. Because Congress had not approved his recommendation for a new Department of Natural Resources, Nixon strengthened the role of the Department of the Interior in policy coordination, placed the Oil Policy Committee within the Department of the Treasury, appointed a special consultant to head an energy staff in the Office of the President, established a new energy division within the Office of Management and Budget, and proposed legislation to establish a Department of Energy and Natural Resources for “leadership across the entire range of national energy.” The full texts of the President’s special message and his remarks on transmitting the message to Congress are in Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pages 301–319.

On April 23, Kissinger delivered “The Year of Europe” speech, calling for a revitalized Atlantic partnership. In the summation, Kissinger specifically noted that such a partnership needed to work cooperatively on new common problems, such as energy. Energy, Kissinger stated, “raises the challenging issues of assurance of supply, impact of oil revenues on international currency stability, the nature of common political and strategic interests, and long-range relations of oil-consuming to oil-producing countries. This could be an area of competition; it should be an area of collaboration.” (Department of State Bulletin, May 14, 1973, pages 593–599)

President Nixon supplemented his April 18 energy message with a statement on June 29, which announced the following additional [Page 454] measures: 1) the creation of the Energy Policy Office within the White House, to be headed by Colorado Governor John A. Love, responsible for the formulation and coordination of energy policies at the Presidential level; 2) the consolidation and transference of agencies dealing with natural resources into the Department of the Interior to facilitate the creation of the Cabinet-level Department of Energy and Natural Resources; and 3) greater emphasis on research and development and conservation. No new international initiatives were announced. However, Nixon did state: “The Department of State is taking steps to consult with the major oil-producing nations to develop the cooperative arrangements needed to ensure adequate and stable sources of oil in the future. We are also working closely with the other major oil-consuming nations in studying ways of meeting growing world demand for energy supplies. These include emergency sharing arrangements, as well as stockpile and rationing programs which might lead to more coordinated policies for meeting oil supply shortages should they occur in the future.” The full text of President Nixon’s statement is in Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pages 623–630.