121. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • International Energy Issues for Your Energy Package

The 1973–74 oil embargo and the massive price increase which followed, caused major global economic disruption. They have also demonstrated the vulnerability of the industrialized world to disruptions of OPEC oil exports. To meet future embargoes and prevent disruptive competition for supplies, the industrialized democracies established an emergency oil-sharing plan. The International Energy Agency (IEA) was established to implement this plan.

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The IEA has become the major vehicle for cooperation to reduce vulnerability through conservation, development of alternative sources and R&D. It recently launched a process to generate commitments by individual countries to the major energy policy measures necessary to achieve reduced dependence targets. Your energy program provides an opportunity to give major impetus to international energy cooperation and to stimulate other countries to take equivalent action to reduce imports.

Three areas could be stressed:

—The expansion of R&D cooperation with other industrialized countries—and in some cases with major OPEC and energy-deficient LDCs. This could include “cross investment” under the operational framework of the IEA, with US participating in R&D projects in other countries and in return opening some of our projects to participation by them. Opportunities include improved conservation, coal combustion and conversion techniques; nuclear waste management.

—Cooperation between oil importers and oil exporters to develop a better understanding of the contribution both can make to a better international energy equilibrium consistent with our interests in global prosperity.

—Helping energy-deficient developing countries to increase energy production, making use of the multilateral development institutions.

Proposed draft speech language is at Tab A.2

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 8, Energy Department. Confidential. Carter initialed the memorandum.
  2. Not found. On April 18, Carter addressed the nation for the first time on the energy issue from the Capitol’s House Chamber. The speech, broadcast live on radio and television, begins: “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem that is unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge that our country will face during our lifetime. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It’s a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and it’s likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.” Calling the crisis the “moral equivalent of war,” Carter outlined the specific goals of his plan to meet this challenge: reduction in the annual growth rate in U.S. energy demand to less than 2 percent, reduction by half of U.S. oil imports to 6 million barrels a day, establishment of a strategic petroleum reserve of 1 billion barrels, increased coal production, increased insulation in American homes and buildings, and the use of solar energy. For the full text of the speech, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1977, pp. 656–663. In his diary, Carter called the speech “one of the most important of my presidency.” (White House Diary, p. 41)