Richard Nixon and Project Independence

We’re currently reading “The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil” by Larry Pratt for our Canadian Public Policy class. It’s quite an interesting read. We never knew natural resource policy and the history of Alberta’s tarsands was so interesting.

As well, we thought this clip from pages 49 – 50 of said book was interesting and quite telling…

One month following the outbreak of the Yom Kippur Middle East war of October 1973, with the United States deep in the grip of Watergate fever compounded by the anxiety over the Arab oil boycott, former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon appeared on American television to prescribe strong medicine, his antidote for the energy crisis.

Nixon named it “Project Independence.” The challenge facing the United States, he declared, was to regain the strength of self-sufficiency in energy. This was a key to Americans predominance among the nations. “Our ability to meet our own energy needs is directly linked to our continued ability to act decisively and independently at home and abroad in the service of peace, not only for America, bur for all nations in the world.” Calling for “focused leadership” to achieve self-sufficiency by 1980, Nixon likened his challenge to earlier crash programs to develop the atomic bomb and to put a man on the moon. He went on to promise massive public funding for the exploration of American’s remaining energy resources-Alaskan oil and gas, offshore oil reserves, nuclear energy and synthetic fuels from coal and oil shale. A few days later, Nixon reiterated his challenge, linking it to rumour circulating Washington that the “blue-eyed Arabs” of Canada were taking advantage of America‘s energy plant. The United States, Nixon asserted, should be independent of all oil producing countries, “including our Canadian friends,” by 1976. Canadians “can be pretty tough on us sometimes when they are looking down our throats.” This did not mean that the U.S. would not continue to desire the oil of he Middle East of the gas of Siberia or that she would cease energy cooperation with Canada or Latin America. “But it does mean that the United States must be independent in this area, and we can be.”

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