Jimmy Carter on Energy & Oil
President of the U.S., 1977-1981
1970s windfall taxes reduced domestic production
Some in Washington want to punish oil companies through so-called "windfall taxes." They forget their history. Jimmy Carter tried a similar approach back in the 1970s, with the predictable result that domestic production fell and our reliance on foreign
oil grew. For a lot of reasons, American oil production has already declined from 9.2 million barrels a day in 1973 to 5 million barrels a day in 2007. A basic rule of economics is that if you want less of something, just tax it more.
Source: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, p.210
, Nov 15, 2010
Installed solar panels on White House roof
Carter claimed to the press that he was saving energy by having solar panels installed on the roof of the White House to heat hot water. "It would not generate enough hot water to run the dishwasher in the staff mess," a White
House staffperson says. "It was a fiasco. The staff mess had to go out and buy new equipment to keep the water hot enough. That blew any savings."
Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 75-76
, Jun 29, 2009
Attempted to inspire conservation by personal example
Carter did not manage to broker an adequate energy policy. He tried to promote conservation by example, turning down the thermostats at the White House and in other government buildings, wearing cardigan sweaters, and installing solar panels and a
woodstove at the White House. He also deregulated energy prices, launched a program to develop synthetic fuels, and successfully legislated fuel-efficiency standards. But in an era of soaring oil prices and long lines at the gas pumps, it did not add up
to a policy.
In fairness, transforming America's energy consumption would have been a Herculean feat for any president. But Carter lacked two core qualification. He never mastered the art of either inspiring the people or working with Congress. Carter
was a man of abiding principle, idealism, and morality. Those qualities shone through in his post-presidency. However, as president, his attempts to appeal to ethical norms often sounded merely reproachful or preachy. His high purpose was not enough.
Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 56
, Aug 25, 2008
Pushed alternative energy program to fight oil shortage
Carter faced a drastic erosion of the value of the US dollar and a persistent trade deficit, much of it a result of US dependence on foreign oil. The president warned that Americans were wasting too much energy, that domestic supplies of oil and
natural gas were running out, and that foreign supplies of petroleum were subject to embargoes by the producing nations, principally by members of OPEC. In mid-1979, in the wake of widespread shortages of gasoline, Carter advanced a long-term program
designed to solve the energy problem. He proposed a limit on imported oil, gradual price decontrol on domestically produced oil, a stringent program of conservation, and development of alternative sources of energy such as solar,
nuclear, and geothermal power, oil and gas from shale and coal, and synthetic fuels. In what was probably his most significant domestic legislative accomplishment, he was able to get a significant portion of his energy program through Congress.
Source: Grolier’s Encyclopedia, “The Presidency”
, Dec 25, 2000
Passed energy policy of some decontrol & some regulation
The total energy package pushed by Carter in 1978 was extremely complicated, but far-reaching in its beneficial effect on our nation. The production of gas-guzzling automobiles would be deterred by heavy penalties; electric utility companies could no
longer encourage waste of energy with their distorted rate structures and would have to join in a common effort to better insulate buildings; higher efficiency of home appliances would be required; gasohol production and carpooling were promoted with tax
incentives; coal production & use were stimulated, along with the use of pollution-control devices; and the carefully phased decontrol of natural -gas prices would bring predictability to the market, increase exploration for new supplies, & reduce waste
of this clean-burning fuel. The new bills also included strong encouragement for solar-power development, and tax incentives for the installation of solar units in homes and other buildings. These and many more provisions now became the law of the land.
Source: Keeping Faith, by Jimmy Carter, p.107
, Oct 15, 1978
Proposed Energy Dept. to share sacrifices of rising prices
The proposal by the oil and gas industry for solving our energy shortage was simple: remove all laws and regulations. [But that] would allow OPEC to control both the international market and our domestic oil prices.
We realized that our domestic prices
would have to rise in order to stimulate American production and encourage conservation, but the increase needed to be brought about in a predictable & orderly fashion. Also, the unearned profits from higher prices needed to be shared with the consuming
public. Even with such protection, some sacrifices among the people would be required, making it doubly important that our proposed plan be fair.
On March 1st, I sent to Congress our proposal for the new Department of Energy. It was like pulling teeth
to convince the people of America that we had a serious problem in the face of apparently plentiful supplies, or that they should be willing to make some sacrifices or change their habits to meet a challenge which, for the moment, was not evident.
Source: Keeping Faith, by Jimmy Carter, p. 94-97
, Apr 18, 1977
Energy policy needed to avoid kowtowing to oil countries
Under the last Democratic administration 60% of all weapons that went to the Middle East were for Israel. Now 20% go to Israel. This is a deviation from a commitment to our ally in the
Middle East and a yielding to economic pressure on the part of the Arabs on the oil issue; and it's also a tremendous indication that under the Ford administration we have not addressed energy policy adequately. We have no comprehensive energy policy.
Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate
, Oct 6, 1976
Develop a varied energy portfolio, including solar
Q: There seems to be a difference between you and the President on the use of nuclear power plants, which you would use as a last priority.
CARTER: We're gonna run out of oil. We now import about 44% of our oil. We need to shift from oil to coal.
We need to concentrate our on coal burning and extraction, with safer mines, but also clean burning. We need to shift very strongly toward solar energy and have strict conservation measures. And then as a last resort only, use atomic power.
FORD: In 1975 I submitted to Congress the first comprehensive energy program recommended by any president. It called for an increase in the production of energy in the United States. If you're going to increase domestic oil and gas production--and
we have to--you have to give those producers an opportunity to develop their land or their wells. I think you have to have greater oil and gas production, more coal production, more nuclear production, and in addition you have to have energy conservation
Source: The First Carter-Ford Presidential Debate
, Sep 23, 1976
Page last updated: Apr 28, 2013