Our Man in Washington: Natural Gas Shortage and Elections

A contributor examines the claims and assumptions surrounding a purported natural gas shortage in 1973, and also the prospects of environmental causes in Congress following the 1972 elections.

| January/February 1973

Natural Gas - Fotolia_28554383

The existence of a natural gas shortage was a topic of debate in the early 1970s.


The Energy Crisis

Tired of hearing about the "energy crisis"? Confused by corporate graphs which show consumption skyrocketing and resources plummeting? Well, so are we. But the warnings seem to be based on irrefutable eco-logic: you can't keep taking things out of the ground without using them up eventually.

True enough, as far as it goes, but apparently too many Americans even sophisticated editorial writers are buying this line, advanced by the big industries, lock, stock and (excuse the pun) barrel . . . no questions asked.

Well, we have a few questions.

For starters, let's consider natural gas. The chief spokesman for the industry is the American Gas Association. This group is spending millions propagating the belief that there isn't enough incentive for companies to explore for more gas and that as a result we may soon be faced with a drastic shortage. The AGA is so convincing it has even converted its most skeptical critics.

No less a watchdog of the public trust than the Washington Post, for example, wrote in a recent editorial: "The present shortage of gas to residential customers has arisen largely because of obsolete and harmful price regulations imposed by the Federal government. Despite soaring demand, the price has been held far below the cost of competing fuels."

MOTHER'S Man in Washington begs to differ with the Washington Post. We've been doing some investigating of our own and have discovered a lot more questions than pat answers.

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