It is important to understand that President Nixon’s firm stance on a sustainable domestic energy policy began before the energy crisis of 1973.
At the onset of Richard Nixon’s presidency, the United States was consuming a third of the worlds’ energy production, while only representing six percent of the world’s population. President Nixon recognized that if years of wasteful energy habits and shortsighted government policies continued to reign, the nation would one day find itself strapped of energy supplies. In 1971, President Nixon continued his push for bureaucratic contraction at the federal level by proposing that all the federal resource development programs be brought together under one agency via the Department of Natural Resources.
President Nixon also ordered the launch of the first American breeder reactor project—a source of nuclear reactor energy—in the spring of 1971 in hopes of utilizing its highly efficient use of nuclear fuel. At the time, the prospect of breeder reactors offered a better market alternative to the rising costs of uranium.
In his 1971 Special Message to the Congress on Energy Resources, President Nixon further outlined his preferred path towards energy independence. His proposed programs included:
-Sulfur oxide control technology
-Leasing on the outer continental shelf for oil drilling
-Increasing imports from Canada
-Government reorganization through the creation of an Energy Administration
From the day President Nixon delivered his first Special Message to Congress on Energy in 1971 to April of 1973, America’s energy research and development efforts expanded by 50 percent (RN, Special Message to the Congress on Energy Policy, 1973). Yet the crisis brought on by the oil embargo in the Middle East still demonstrated the United States’ unpreparedness when energy stockpiles became scarce. President Nixon challenged legislatures with energy farsightedness, yet the nation was not willing to sacrifice just yet.
Validating his continuing devotion towards meeting America’s energy demands, President Nixon, in 1973, continued to push Congress for more legislative solutions. In this Special Message to Congress, President Nixon reiterated his priorities in exploring geothermal energy, expanding clean coal mining initiatives, and continuing the expansion of research and development. However, the oil embargo at the end of 1973 presented the United States with new and grim energy concerns.
President Nixon pressed more for the conservation of energy, international cooperation, and greater efforts geared toward constructing breeder nuclear reactors. He promulgated that a growing economy will always stimulate greater energy demands, and as such, the United States ought to tap into its copious coal reserves without reneging on the nation’s efforts to develop clean coal mining techniques.
It was also during this message that President Nixon again highlighted the importance of consolidating all energy resources programs into one energy authority, stating that “one of the major advantages of consolidating energy responsibilities would be the broader scope and greater balance this would give to research and development work in the energy field.”
With energy production being the incentive for reorganizing a large portion of federal bureaucracy, President Nixon worked tirelessly to untangle the predicament set forth by the shortsighted government of the 1960s.