Experts Predict Energy Crisis as Early as 1992

Article excerpt

Sixteen-year-olds getting their drivers licenses in 1989 have no conception of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo that put U.S. drivers into long gasoline lines.

They don't recall the Carter Administration urging home thermostats to be set on 68 degrees and the subsequent hue and cry to curb all energy consumption.

Energy experts of today are predicting another energy crisis, which some say could happen as early as 1992, due to rising imports and declining domestic drilling. On the other hand, though, the U.S. Department of Energy and American Gas Association estimate domestic reserves of oil and gas would carry the nation 30 to 50 years into the future.

"The United States must search for alternate fuel supplies and waste less of what we already have," said James W. Bennett, executive director of the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, at an Energy Department hearing in Tulsa Tuesday.

Conservation, however, was not a prevailing topic at the hearing, which was the first of four regional hearings planned through September. Energy department officials are striving to form a draft national energy strategy by April 1, aimed primarily at addressing the nation's energy security and environmental issues. Tax incentives plans to boost domestic production and cut down on imports were among the most prevalent suggestions made at the Tulsa hearing.

Some conservation measures mentioned, though, included:

- Raising fuel efficiency standards for automobiles to 45 miles per gallon and 35 miles per gallon for light trucks by the year 2000.

- Requiring utilities to pursue least-cost planning when acquiring additional electrical supply.

- Energy efficiency improvements in homes, offices and within utilities themselves.

- Appliance efficiency regulations.

The vehicle mileage measure would save 2 million barrels of oil per day by the year 2010, said Vicki McCullough, spokeswoman for Native Americans for a Clean Environment. The organization is based in Vian.

Oklahoma Wildlife Federation agrees with such measures and passed a resolution in March calling for a national energy policy based on increased efficiency, Bennett said. The organization has 45,000 members and supporters, he said.

"Not only did it refuse to take a leadership role in energy policy, the Reagan Administration opposed efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators and other household appliances; rolled back programs aimed at increased heating and cooling efficiency of old and new buildings, and gutted the most successful conservation and renewable energy programs in each of the federal departments," Bennett said. …