ABSTRACT

As one who has worked closely with the oil industry during the past seven years and who has spoken out in its favor on many occasions when - while preserving my self-respect - such action could only earn me the slings and arrows of many of my colleagues, I make no apologies for any of the comments which follow.

Having been on the opposite side of industry when I perceived its position to be erroneous, I have maintained an independence that has allowed me to deal with what I at least thought were the facts. In the process - given my support of industry at other times - I have learned what President Eisenhower meant when he remarked that to be a middle-of-the-roader is to risk getting hit by traffic going either way!

I confess readily my inability to provide an answer to the question posed by this panel. As one whose record for being wrong is quite visible, I have learned to recognize the serious limitations the lack of a crystal ball places on my attempts to prognosticate. (I brought my overcoat to Denver!)

But, since my audience is made up of representatives of a large, diverse and powerful industry, I can suggest ways in which you - in my opinion - can contribute more effectively to the nation's search for a workable solution to its energy problem.

You need to do a great deal of work on the image you present to the public. Note what I said. I did not indicate that I agree with the public's perception of you - I do not - I merely suggest that the unfortunate image you possess - as does the nation's business community generally - presents you with many problems which you must overcome if you are to convey the knowledge you possess to our citizenry.

That lack of credibility is not helped by statements suggesting that we can overcome the shortfall in domestic petroleum production if only the price is adequate and government will get off our backs. Both ideas are good ones, but yours is further eroding your credibility by promising something you cannot deliver.

This is especially true at a time when there is a very temporary glut of on the market. Those of you who saw ABC News last evening heard Howard K. Smith suggest that the glut presented an opportunity to break OPEC's solid front and get prices keyg. If you help give credence to Smith's perception of the glut as permanent and the idea results in unfulfilled expectations on the part of the American people, you will have only yourselves to blame for the chaos which will follow.

You need to avoid striking moral postures when enunciating your positions - something of which conservationists are equally guilty. They are at best unbecoming. Neither of us bear any divine authority or special wisdom that gives us the right to decide what is best for all Americans. That they will do! Such posturing merely helps to further confuse the public. The issues at stake can best be resolved in

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.