The energy industry has long been the target for governmental taxation and control. Examples abound, dating back to the early days of this century when the oil and gas industry was developing and coming right down to the second session of this 99th congress. As early as 1906, the Hepburn Act provided for regulations of oil pipelines. A committee chaired by Senator LaFollette in the '20's investigated the petroleum industry with some legislators at that time attempting to set the stage for regulation. Questioning was fierce! During many of these early years the debate over depletion allowance was an annual occurrence. During the 1930's, under the National Industrial Recovery Act, controls were placed on the oil industry though not others. Then, in 1954, came the landmark Phillips case on which the Supreme Court ruled that natural gas prices could be controlled at the wellhead. After 32 years, we are still trying to correct that mistake.
The decade of the '70's was a particularly difficult period for the industry from a political standpoint. Twice, events outside the United States caused supply disruptions and fears that the country was running out of fuel supplies. For some, the oil and gas industry became the scapegoat. There were rumors that loaded tankers were waiting offshore and that gas wells were shut in to force prices higher. There were divestiture bills, windfall profits taxes, and other negative legislative actions. To some extent, the political mood was punitive.
When the hysteria subsided and common sense began to prevail, there seemed to be a basic realization that the oil industry didn't cause the problem (although some, even today, may find it difficult to admit), but that we must have a strong industry with adequate incentive to develop our country's energy resources. There seemed to be a near consensus that the United States should strive for energy independence. There was legislation to encourage leasing of promising offshore areas, to develop alternate energy sources, to encourage conservation, and, to some extent, develop new supplies of natural gas.