Comparative Essay on The Energy Crisis


Instuctions:This essay will be a comparative essay, comparing or contrasting the experiences of your interviewees with the information you have learned from the textbook or in class. You will need to choose a topic of interest from Johnson’s, Nixon’s, Ford’s, or Carter’s administration (1964-1980) and interview at least 2 people who lived through and experienced the event in a similar format. For example, if you choose the Vietnam War as your event, your interviewees should have experienced the war from a similar context- both soldiers in the war, both student protesters, or both children/teens during the war watching the news and hearing their families discuss it, for example. The context for your event is the context provided by your textbook or in class; you do not need to do further research on the event but you do need to reference and cite the information you have learned.

Book Title: “Moving On The American People Since 1945 Fifth Edition.“Author: George Donelson Moss | Evan A. ThomasISBN-13: 978-0-205-88076-8ISBN-10: 0-205-88076-2Chapter 12: “Era of Limits” | Section: “ENERGY CRISIS”

“In October 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embargoed oil shipments to the United States. The oil cutoff was initiated by Saudi-Arabia and other Arab members of OPEC to protest U.S. support of Israel in its recent war with Egypt and Syria and to force a settlement of the war favoring the Arabs. This bold initiative taken by the OPEC members resulted in the largest nonviolent transfer of wealth in human history. Americans never saw it comeing. They were blindsided band traumatized by the oil shock. Americans experienced shortages of heating oil and power “brownouts”. Impatient and anxious motorists formed long lines at the gas pumps.   The energy crisis had been building for years; the OPEC embargo triggerred it. American postwar growth and prosperity had been founded on cheep energy. U.S. domestic oil production began declining in 1969, while demand continued to rise. By 1970, America, with only 6 percent of the world’s population, used over one-third of the world’s energy. To meet the ever-increasing demand for oil, U.S. oil companies bought more and more imported oil. Daily consumption of imported oil rose from 12 percent in 1968 to 36 percent in 1973. An increasing proportion of imported oil came from OPEC nations, and two-thirds of OPEC oil came from the Middle East   The OPEC embargo was short lived. Arab countries removed it after a few months, and oil shortages quickly vanashed. But gasoline prices rose from 30 cents to 70 cents a gallon during that period and they stayed there. In 1970, the average price of a barrel of crude oil was $2.53; it was averaging $31.00 a barrel in 1980. Much higher energy prices begame a permanent fact of U.S. economic life. Higher oil prices sent an inflamatory jolt coursing through all facets of the American economy because oil had seeped into the fabric of American life. Oil heated homes; it was synthesized into fibers and plastics; farmers used it for fertilizer, pesticides, and fuel; and it was crucial to all forms of transportation. Rising energy prices struck hardest at the older industrial centers of the Northeast and the Great Lakes region, because they had to import most of their energy. Cutbacks in federal spending fell hardest on cities in these regions, given their shrinking tax bases, declining industries, and expensive social services.   Before he was forced to resign, Nixon had battled the energy crisis. He created the Federal Energy Office to formulate a national energy policy and to promote coservation. He proposed a plan called “Project Independence” to make America energy-independent by 1980. The plan called for increasing domestic oil production by tapping Alaskan oil fields and accelerating offshore drilling; producing more natual gas, coal, and nuclear energy; extracting oil from shale deposits; and developing renewable energy sources. Project Independence made little progress. With the lifting of the embargo and the return of normal supplies of oil, most people rapidly forgot about the energy crisis, although motorists complained about the high price of gasoline.   Ford tried to continue Nixon’s energy program, but he encountered opposition from various interest groups. Environmentalists opposed many of its features. Antinuclear groups opposed building additional nuclear power plants. Ford tried to deregulate domestic oil and natural gas prices, only to be blocked by the Democratic majority in Congress, who believed that deregulation would hurt low-income families and aggravate inflation. Congress enacted legislation in 1975, giving the president standby authority to ration gasoline, to create a strategic petroleum reserve, and to set mandatory fuel economy standards for new cars. Three years later, the United States imported 40 percent of its daily oil requirements, more than the quantity it imported when OPEC embargoed oil.”

Interviewee I:• Born in 1946.• He would have been 27 at the time.• He said that at the time (1973), he worked for a company that delivered brick to brick layers at the locations that they were laying brick.• He remembered waiting in line to get gas for two or more hours at a time.• He remembered filling up as often as he possibly could so that he wouldn’t run out of gas.• He remembered carpooling with his boss and several of his co-workers so that they could all save their gas, and it worked because he never went without gas at the time.• He said that the remembered gas prices going up, but he didn’t really remember anything else like food going up.

Interviewee II:• Born in 1949.• She would have been 24 at the time.• She said that she didn’t remember the energy crisis at all.• She said that at the time (1973) she was very poor.• She had a junky car that bearly ran at all, and even if it did, she wouldn’t have had enough money to buy gas anyway.• I asked her if she rememered seeing it in the news or people talking about it. She said no. She didn’t have a TV or a news paper subscription at the time.• My guess is that she was very well sheltered around the time by her family members because on a separate occaision, I do remember her telling me that in the 1970s she went to visit an Aunt in San Francisco California and that it took forever to get there from Denver Colorado because the nation wide speed limit was 55MPH at the time, and many roads had much lower speed limits than that. She didn’t remember why it was that low, but she remembered wishing that they could drive faster. After doing further research I found that in 1972 responded to the oil crisis by enacting a nationwide 55 miles per hour speed limit. – The New York Times “Keep the Nationwide Speed Limit at 55 M.P.H”


                  The Energy Crisis of 1973

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) introduced an embargo against the US measure to retaliate for the US decision to resupply the Israeli military and gain more leverage for peace negations after the war[1].   The embargo that the Arab members of OPEC had also imposed in other countries that supported Israel in this War such as Portugal and the Netherlands, banned both petroleum exports to the targeted countries and lead to cuts in oil production[2]. With failed negotiations and various failed strategies, the US experienced numerous embargo’s effects. More information people about the oil crisis was gathered from Interviewee I who was born in 1946, who 27 at the time, was working for a company that delivered brick to brick layers to the location that they were laying brick. Additionally, interviewee II, born in 1949, and 24 at the time of the oil crisis, was poor and recalls less about this period. With the accounts from the two interviewees who were in different classes at the time, this paper shows that the energy crisis had a different effect on people depending on their financial situation; people living in extreme poverty were less affected than those making frequent gas purchases.

At first, the oil embargo led to the inflation of oil prices in the US that mostly affected American motorists who belonged to the higher income class[3]. The usage of energy in the US had increased, decades leading to the oil crisis where the oil from domestic producers could not meet all the demand. While the US oil companies were running at full tilt and increasingly became unable to produce oil to make up the slack, they imported more oil. As the demand increased the amount of imported oil used increased in the US. Thus when OPEC imposed the embargo and lead to a decline in oil production, it struck many Americans when it caused the shortage of oil and the oil prices to jump from 30 cents per gallon of gasoline to 70 cents[4].  However, the impact of the energy crisis mostly hit the high-income class who were the American consumers of retail gasoline. …………for help with this assignment contact us via Email Address:

[1] Moss, George Donelson. Moving on: The American people since 1945. Pearson Higher Ed, 2013, Ch. 12.

[2] Haluga, Meredith. “The Oil Crisis of 1973: President Nixon’s Actions to Maintain American Prosperity.” (2017), p. 3.

[3] Haluga, Meredith. The Oil Crisis of 1973, p. 7.

[4] Moss, George Donelson. Moving on: The American people since 1945, Ch. 12.

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