A Free-Market Energy Blog

Obama 2013–or Jimmy Carter 1977?

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 19, 2013

“Industrial development would have been greatly retarded if sixty or eighty years ago the warning of the [coal]conservationists had been heeded. . . . [T]he internal combustion engine would never have revolutionized transport if its use had been limited to the then known supplies of oil. . . . Though it is important that on all these matters the opinion of the experts about the physical facts should be heard, the result in most instances would have been very detrimental if they had had the power to enforce their views on policy.”

– F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 369-70.

Government energy planning is a long tried, long failed exercise. The inner Obama in his Argonne speech last week surely channeled Jimmy Carter; and Carter circa 1977 foreshadowed the 44th president of the United States. And President Carter did not introduce the idea of federal energy planning either.

To make these points, consider the following ten quotations, four from Carter, four from Obama, and two from the U.S. Department of Interior in 1939. Can you tell which is which? (Answers at the end)


“Our energy crisis is an invisible crisis.”

“After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future…. [F]ew pieces of business are more important for us than getting our energy future right.”

“Unless the U.S. makes a timely adjustment before world oil becomes very scarce and very expensive …  the nation’s economic security and the American way of life will be gravely endangered.”

“[Federal] scientists are working on getting us where we need to get 10 years from now, 20 years from now [to overcome high gasoline] prices…. Let’s set up an energy security trust that helps us free our families and our businesses from painful spikes in gas once and for all.”

“[T]he price of all energy is going up, both because of its increasing scarcity and because the price of oil is not set in a free and competitive market…. Our biggest problem, however, is that we simply use too much and waste too much energy.”

“I am absolutely confident that America is poised to succeed in the same way, as long as we don’t lose that spirit of innovation and recognize that we can only do it together. And I’m going to work as hard as I can every single day to make sure that we do….”

[My] energy plan is a good insurance policy-for the future, in which relatively small premiums that we pay today will protect us in the years ahead. But if we fail to act boldly today, then we will surely face a greater series of crises tomorrow–energy shortages, environmental damage, ever more massive Government bureaucracy and regulations, and ill considered, last-minute crash programs.”

“… the private sector on its own will not invest in this research because it’s too expensive. It’s too risky. They can’t afford it in terms of their bottom lines. So we’ve got to support it. And we’ll all benefit from it, and our kids will benefit from it, and our grand kids will benefit from it. That’s who we are. That’s been the American story.”

“I hope that, perhaps a hundred years from now, the change to inexhaustible energy sources will have been made, and our Nation’s concern about energy will be over. But we can make that transition smoothly–for our country and for our children and for our grandchildren-only if we take careful steps now to prepare ourselves for the future.”

“The question is whether the nation shall permit [oil development] without adequate regard for waste, for social objectives, and for future welfare….”

“The present and proposed regulatory measures … are designed to promote the development of the energy resources industries along lines that will be consistent with the broad national interest.”


Answers: Carter-Obama-Carter-Obama-Carter-Obama-Carter-Obama1939-1939


  1. Bob  

    I’ve heard Jimmy and all those since talk about running out of resources, ending our dependence on foreign oil and renewables. Sounds like a broken record. I’m surprised that they can continue to say the same old things, generally proven wrong, with a straight face.


  2. Dr. James H. Rust  

    The environmental movement has been thwarting development of our fossil fuels for at least 50 years. Oil was discovered in Alaska during WWII as I recall. Oil companies wanted to drill for oil on the North Slope and build a pipeline in the 60s. Environmental groups fought them all the way. It took until 1977 before the Alaska pipeline could be started. I always wondered back in the late 1970s if we had North Slope oil coming to the U. S. in 1973, if the Arab Oil Embargo of November 1973 would have amounted to anything.

    History is repeating itself. We can’t drill for more oil in ANWR or the West part of Alaska because environmental movements in concert with the administration are not allowing development of more oil. When flow from the North Slope declines to 300,000 barrels per day, the Alaskan Pipeline may freeze and never be started up again. Bye Bye Alaska oil.


  3. Boxing In Oil And Gas: The Latest Part Of The Obama Plan | JOFPAC  

    […] Obama — the most anti-energy president since Jimmy Carter — disagrees. In a stunning decree reversing his 2015 proposal, Obama has banned new oil and gas […]


Leave a Reply