Americans are faced with petrol rationing and unlighted Christmas trees this winter because of the acute oil shortage, caused in part by the Arab oil boycott.
Americans are faced with petrol rationing and unlighted Christmas trees this winter because of the acute oil shortage, caused in part by the Arab oil boycott. The austerity measures to be imposed on the country are the most severe since World War Two.
In a televised speech to the nation on Wednesday (November 7th) President Nixon said the country must accept some sacrifices, including a 15 per cent cut in heating oil supplies, if the life and economy of the country were not to be seriously damaged.
The United States faced a serious oil shortage this winter even before the Middle East war broke out. The subsequent Arab embargo, imposed because of United states support of Israel, has made the situation critical.
The United states imports about one third of its oil needs of 17 million barrels a day. Of this amount, less than 900,000 barrels comes from the Middle East and North Africa. But two major suppliers to the Untied States, Venezuela and Nigeria, have recently raised their prices.
President Nixon said the present shortage was between two million and three million barrels a day, and could rise much higher if the Arab embargo continued. The President announced he had asked the Congress to approve emergency legislation to conserve oil. The legislation calls for daylight saving all year round; easing of air pollution standards so cheaper fuel can be used; curtailing working hours of some commercial establishments; reducing highway speeds; increasing oil extraction from Naval reserves; and allowing the Government to cut 'plane and ship schedules by up to ten per cent.
Mr. Nixon also announced that he had reduced the Government's use of electricity by seven per cent, mainly by the sparing use of central heating in government buildings.
President Nixon took the opportunity to scold Congress for not passing a single major energy bill he proposed this year, including measures aimed at achieving self sufficiency in the United States. He asked for immediate action on proposals to construct the Alaska oil pipeline and to increase production of natural gas.
The President made his speech as the first cold snap of winter hit America. For the Americans, this winter will be a difficult period. While the Arab oil boycott is far less serious for the United States than it threatens to be for Europe and Japan, the Americans are quite unaccustomed to going short and tightening their belts. Their lives revolve around their care and central heating to an extent unknown in other countries.