Quest for Energy Independence

December 23, 1983

Report Outline
The Energy Decade
Coping with Prices
The Energy Outlook
Special Focus

The Energy Decade

Steady Reliance on Petrolium Imports

Energy Independence. Ever since the Arab oil embargo of 1973–74, those two words have been the aim of American energy policy. In the 10 years that have followed, four presidents and six Congresses have taken varied — sometimes contradictory — approaches to freeing the United States from its dependence both on imported oil and on procurement of oil from unstable and occasionally unfriendly foreign countries. At the end of a decade, the question is: Are we any closer to energy independence today than when we started?

If one of the measures of independence is the ability to cut consumption, the United States has made significant gains. American energy consumption from all sources reached a peak in 1979 and has dropped steadily ever since. Conscious efforts to conserve by both individuals and industries account for much of this decrease in consumption. According to Alan Nogee, Energy Project Coordinator for Environmental Action, conservation has made the U. S. economy 20 percent more energy efficient since 1973. But no one knows for certain how long-lasting or deep this streak of conservation goes. A substantial portion of the drop in consumption is attributable to the worldwide recession that followed the 1979–80 oil price hikes. And energy consumption is expected to increase as the economy picks up. Falling oil prices may also stimulate more consumption. Conservation has left OPEC with a glut of oil and a “depressed” price of $29 a barrel.

Despite the overall drop in consumption, the nation is still vulnerable to another embargo or other disruption in its oil supply and that vulnerability is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Americans have cut their consumption of oil — from 18.85 million barrels a day (mbd) in 1978 to an estimated 15.18 mbd in 1983. But the nation still imports nearly one-third of its oil, only a little less than it imported in 1973. And on Dec. 16 former Energy Secretary James Schlesinger predicted that U.S. dependence on foreign oil will again rise above the 50 percent level during the 1990s.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oil and Gasoline Prices
Jun. 22, 2012  U.S. Oil Dependence
Nov. 01, 2011  Future of the Gulf States
Jan. 04, 2008  Oil Jitters Updated
Jul. 2007  Energy Nationalism
Sep. 30, 2005  Domestic Energy Development
Jan. 24, 2003  Oil Diplomacy
Aug. 07, 1998  Oil Production in the 21st Century
Aug. 23, 1991  Oil Imports
Oct. 30, 1987  Persian Gulf Oil
Apr. 04, 1986  Oil Prices
Dec. 23, 1983  Quest for Energy Independence
Sep. 23, 1983  OPEC: 10 Years After the Arab Oil Boycott
May 29, 1981  Western Oil Boom
Aug. 25, 1978  Oil Imports
Feb. 10, 1978  Oil Antitrust Action
Dec. 17, 1976  Alaskan Development
May 17, 1974  Arab Oil Money
Mar. 15, 1974  Oil Taxation
Jul. 18, 1973  Offshore Oil Search
Mar. 28, 1973  Persian Gulf Oil
Nov. 01, 1972  Gasoline Prices
Oct. 14, 1970  Fuel Shortages
Nov. 12, 1969  Alaskan Oil Boom
Dec. 11, 1968  Oil Shale Development
Oct. 26, 1960  World Oil Glut
Sep. 10, 1958  Middle East Oil
Oct. 30, 1951  Oil Nationalization
Aug. 11, 1950  Oil Imports
Apr. 23, 1947  Oil of the Middle East
Jan. 22, 1946  Offshore Oil
Mar. 09, 1944  Oil Supply
Dec. 24, 1935  Oil in World Politics
May 07, 1931  Control of Production in the Oil Industry
Mar. 27, 1929  The Oil Leasing Policy of the New Administration
Jun. 08, 1927  Oil Conservation and Stabilization
Feb. 08, 1926  The Mexican Land and Petroleum Laws
Apr. 18, 1925  The Price of Gasoline
Feb. 11, 1924  Background of the Oil Lease Cases
Sep. 01, 1923  Gasoline
Oil and Natural Gas