We've heard a great deal lately about the energy gap and the forthcoming energy crisis. Such a crisis is simply inconceivable to most of us who have lived all our lives with abundant supplies of cheap energy, but time has a way of rendering many established concepts obsolete. Imagine what our reaction would have been had the President of the United States said in 1956, one year prior to Sputnik, "We are going to place a man on the moon in the next decade." We would hurriedly have checked the Vice President's health. Yet in 1960, only three years after Sputnik, our President made such a statement and although President made such a statement and although it was received skeptically at the time, it was in fact fulfilled within the decade.
How could we possibly have an energy crisis? A few days ago I saw regular gasoline being advertised at 24.9 cents at a local station and remembered that I had paid more for it twenty five years ago. If we're short of oil, why doesn't gasoline cost more?, -bottled drinking water in New York City is considerably more expensive. I read recently that the Potential Gas Committee says we have well over 11 hundred trillion cubic feet of potential gas reserves in this country, we only use 22 trillion a year,-so how could we possibly have a shortage of natural gas? If we are supposedly short of crude, why did the state of Texas reduce its daily allowable this fall apparently allowing its wells to produce only 64% of the time. These are all logical questions and they are asked frequently by consumers of natural gas and oil.
The sad fact is that we do have an energy gap and we are approaching an energy crisis of major proportions. It's perhaps the most serious crisis that this nation has yet faced. Can we solve it?, - I think we can and I plan to outline for you a few of the steps that this nation must take to protect and insure adequate energy for its future. One of the most difficult parts of this solution will not be concerned with the technical or political problems but rather with the communications problem, -the elimination of the credibility gap.
In order to come up with reasonable solutions, let's look first at the problem. It would appear that the energy gap we are facing in the United States is the direct result of having no national energy policy. The problem has been aggravated by sex and by affluence. The part that sex plays of course, has to do with the population growth. Fifty years ago there were 100 million people in this country. Now there are over 200 million. By 1980, and reproduction is expected to boost us to over 240 million. Where does affluence come in? In 1950, each of our inhabitants used an amount of energy equal to 39 barrels of oil per year.