Vanessa Reguitti, November 1978
Energy has, as many know, presented itself as a key focus of Mr. Carter’s through his presidency thus far. What can be highlighted as a main action on his part to work towards a more energy efficient country is his proposal of developing a specific group of cabinet that would focus all efforts to the promotion of this goal. Carter has openly expressed his belief that the country has been disorganized in previous energy efforts, and through his presidency wants, “Leadership, not the passivity of the last two years.”
Despite Carter’s obvious want for change, it seems as though not much is actually being done to follow his many different proposals. It should be remembered that president Nixon had put forward this change in cabinet idea in his own administration, and so not even this is innovative on the current president’s part. Carter has also taken an extremely pessimistic view on how much oil remains available, further presenting himself as a president who does not spark hope in his people, but pushes on more doubt. Senate Republicans have also even rejected his proposal of rising taxes to discourage spending, which they believe would have further hurt the country’s already falling economy. This leads one to assume that the president has more want for an “energy efficient country” than an economically successful one.
In an effort to bring the cabinet to action and to work on his side, Carter has repeatedly presented energy as a matter we must deal with now. He has decided on incredibly high production demands, such as a 68% increase in coal production by 1985, which realistically cannot be reached. Coal has been declared an abundant source the president would like to move towards, along with natural gas, but which has not resulted as an easy move for anyone. Problems with unions continue to result around the country, and environmental laws also have prevented such increases in production to even hold as a possibility. Even ignoring these stated problems, many more arise that would truly hinder Carter’s plan from being able to be positively tackled. Although it is of course understood that all these efforts are to reduce the United States’ dependency on other countries, and thus lower the detrimental effects of further possible embargos, the ideas set forth just do not seem to be reasonable in any sense.
Carter has said that other goals include reducing oil imports to 6 million barrels a day by 1985. Today, our country imports 8 million barrels, and this only meets half of the country’s needs. The United States is currently ranked at 17 of 18 countries for energy efficiency, and with our economy already not at a high point to say the least, how to lower energy usage without further damaging such a fragile economic position is no easy question to answer. Our country does not have the economic position or the technology to produce the changes Carter has so repeatedly demanded, showing a lack of compassion and understanding from the man who is supposed to have the well-being of the country’s people at heart.
Adding on to this, others in his administration have expressed concern on whether terrorist action in the Persian Gulf would change their current oil regulation, and thus our trade with them. Clearly, the oil embargo took quite a toll on our economy, with a mass increase in unemployment and inflation rates. Yet, Carter’s plan has been called “defeatist,” with a lack of optimism that is needed in a time of confusion. When the president himself seems to believe his country is leading itself nowhere, terrorism and embargos are words that only add to the sense of fear in where the government is leading us.
The battle to come to terms with a sure way of developing an energy efficient country continues. Carter proceeds to attempt the promotion of extreme measures that congress keeps backing out of, further presenting a president with poor relations with those who are meant to help his efforts become a reality. If they do not trust his judgment, should we?