How the 1970s US Energy Crisis Drove Innovation – History

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Energy

The Arab oil embargo of 1973 put the United States economy on the back foot, causing fuel shortages, a quadrupling of oil prices, and long lines at gas stations. Several legacies of the resulting energy crisis have persisted decades later.The spark of the embargo was the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, when a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. In that war, the Soviet Union resupplied its allies Egypt and Syria, and the United States responded with a massive airlift of supplies to aid Israel.Members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) retaliated with an oil embargo against the United States and the Netherlands, Israel’s main supporters at the time. The resulting shock to the U.S. economy proved to be a vexing problem for American consumers and a string of U.S. presidents, who struggled to adapt. But it also led to important changes in energy efficiency, policymaking and building designs.WATCH VIDEO: Early Demonstration of Solar PowerDepartment of Energy Is CreatedIn an April 1977 speech, new President Jimmy Carter proposed the creation of the Department of Energy, one of several policy changes he announced aimed at dealing with the challenge of a vastly changed energy landscape.“The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly,” the Democratic president said in an address to the nation “… Both consumers and producers need policies they can count on so they can plan ahead. This is one reason I am working with the Congress to create a new Department of Energy, to replace more than 50 different agencies that now have some control over energy.”Later that …

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