Nixon's Report on Energy Conservation, and Problems in the National Parks

A look at Nixon's 1972 energy report, and problems caused by overuse of the National Park System.

| November/December 1972

Nixon and the 1972 Energy Report

Stop the manufacture of inefficient electric appliances. Require that all new buildings be fully insulated. Prohibit the sale of inefficient air conditioners. Require that intercity freight be moved by rail. Shift intercity passengers from air to ground travel and urban passengers from automobiles to mass transit. Compel industry to upgrade its processes and equipment. And finally, to get the job done, levy an energy tax.  

The above may sound like a rallying cry for environmental activists, but it's actually a summary of numerous suggestions made in an energy report that the Nixon administration quietly made public last month.

Coming as it does at a time when industry is waging a massive ad campaign to convince the public that only the rapid development of new sources of fuel can save the nation from an impending energy crisis, the report is potentially embarrassing because it offers another alternative: the rational management of energy use.

Huge amounts of energy, now wasted, can be conserved . . . as much as the equivalent of 7.3 million barrels of crude oil daily by the year 1980. This is equal to about two-thirds of the projected oil imports for that year. In cash, it means a savings of $10.7 billion annually.

"We recognize that our analysis is not complete and that many of the measures we suggest may ultimately prove unacceptable," says Bob Kupperman, chairman of the 11-man team which wrote the study. "But even if we realized only half or a third of the savings we feel is possible, it would still help mightily in managing the energy crisis."

The President himself has said nothing of the report, and Kupperman stresses that it is not a policy-making study. "We are only making suggestions," he says. Still, even those who are highly critical of Nixon's energy policies have told MOTHER the paper is a "hopeful, if cursory, first step" in turning America around on the energy question.

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