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Columbia Energy Exchange

Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford and Carter

There’s much afoot in Washington these days over the prospect of new policies to address climate change and to put the U.S. on more solid footing when it comes to consuming and producing energy. We’ll know more as time goes on as to whether the Biden administration and Congress can reach the difficult agreements necessary to put new policies in place.

Yet, even as we contemplate the possibilities, it’s worth taking a look back at how the U.S. energy policy has evolved over the years, especially during the 1970s, when energy crises roiled energy markets and Washington enacted more energy laws than at any other time.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless speaks with Jay Hakes, the author of a new book that looks closely at that era. It’s called “Energy Crises: Nixon, Ford and Carter, and Hard Choices in the 1970s.”

Jay is a former head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and former director of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

In his book, Jay describes events of the 1970s like the long gasoline lines amid the Arab oil embargo and the fall of the shah of Iran, the fuel shortages that closed schools and factories, the military and political tensions in the oil-rich Middle East and the sky-high inflation that wreaked havoc in the nation’s economy.

More to the point, he writes deeply about the perceptions of these events by the men who occupied the White House then, their determination to end U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and their successes and failures to persuade Congress to go along with their energy agendas.

In short, Jay tells us that the 1970s hold a pre-eminent place in the U.S. when it comes to energy, and he reminds us, as well, that actions then set the foundation for today’s energy production and consumption trends.

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