On July 17, 1981, newly sworn in Republican President Ronald Reagan submitted his National Energy Policy Plan to Congress. In it he stated,
“Our national energy plan should not be a rigid set of production and conservation goals dictated by Government. Our primary objective is simply for our citizens to have enough energy, and it is up to them to decide how much energy that is, and in what form and manner it will reach them. When the free market is permitted to work the way it should, millions of individual choices and judgments will produce the proper balance of supply and demand our economy needs.”
He laid out his policy saying,
“This Administration's actions to end oil price controls and to dismantle the cumbersome regulatory apparatus associated with those controls demonstrate the intent stated in my February 18 economic message to minimize Federal intervention in the marketplace. Reforms in leasing policies and the removal of unnecessary environmental restrictions upon the production, delivery, and use of energy are part of this same effort to reduce bureaucratic burdens on all Americans.
This does not mean that the Federal government is withdrawing from all involvement in energy. It cannot and should not. The Government itself is directly responsible for lands which contain a major share of our resource wealth.”
In his January 26, 1982 State of the Union address, President Reagan said, “By deregulating oil we've come closer to achieving energy independence and helped bring down the cost of gasoline and heating fuel,” setting us on a path of relatively economical and plentiful energy throughout the 1980’s, but still increasingly dependent upon foreign oil as much of our land locked oil sources remained blocked to recovery.
In the February 6, 1985 State of the Union address, President Reagan said,
“Reducing unneeded red tape and regulations, and deregulating the energy, transportation, and financial industries have unleashed new competition, giving consumers more choices, better services, and lower prices. In just one set of grant programs we have reduced 905 pages of regulations to 31. We seek to fully deregulate natural gas to bring on new supplies and bring us closer to energy independence.”
After having been in office 2 years, Republican President George H.W. Bush called for in his January 29, 1991 State of the Union address,
“A comprehensive national energy strategy that calls for energy conservation and efficiency, increased development and greater use of alternative fuels.”
Defeating President Bush in the 1992 election, Democrat President Bill Clinton said of his plan on energy in the February 17, 1993 State of the Union address,
“Our plan includes a tax on energy as the best way to provide us with new revenue to lower the deficit and invest in our people. Moreover, unlike other taxes, this one reduces pollution, increases energy efficiency, and eases our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world.”
We were paying roughly $1.10 at the pump for a gallon of regular gasoline. By the time he left office in January 2001, we paid $1.45 per gallon on average.
President Clinton briefly called for “new sources of energy” in his February 4, 1997 State of the Union address.
In his January 27, 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton said,
“I propose $6 billion in tax cuts, in research and development, to encourage innovation, renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, energy-efficient homes. Every time we have acted to heal our environment, pessimists have told us it would hurt the economy. Well, today our economy is the strongest in a generation, and our environment is the cleanest in a generation. We have always found a way to clean the environment and grow the economy at the same time.”
In the January 19, 1999 State of the Union address, Clinton proposed,
“a new clean air fund to help communities reduce greenhouse and other pollutions, and tax incentives and investment to spur clean energy technologies. And I want to work with members of Congress in both parties to reward companies that take early, voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gases.”
In spite of decades of improvements in pollutants emitted from cars and industry, further efforts were called for by Clinton.
The January 27, 2000 State of the Union address saw a continuation of environmental concern as Clinton said,
“New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even more growth. For example, just last week, automakers unveiled cars that get 70 to 80 miles a gallon--the fruits of a unique research partnership between government and industry. Before you know it, efficient production of biofuels will give us the equivalent of hundreds of miles from a gallon of gas.
To speed innovations in environmental technologies, I propose giving major tax incentives to businesses for the production of clean energy--and to families for buying energy-saving homes and appliances and the next generation of super-efficient cars when they hit the showroom floor. I also call on the auto industry to use available technologies to make all new cars more fuel efficient right away. And on Congress to make more of our clean-energy technologies available to the developing world--creating cleaner growth abroad and new jobs at home.”
Long gone now is the call of previous administrations on increased domestic production of our own oil.
In the February 27, 2001 State of the Union address, newly elected Republican President George W. Bush said,
“many citizens are struggling with the high cost of energy. We have a serious energy problem that demands a national energy policy. The West is confronting a major energy shortage that has resulted in high prices and uncertainty. I've asked federal agencies to work with California officials to help speed construction of new energy sources, and I have direct Vice President Cheney, Commerce Secretary Evans, Energy Secretary Abraham and other senior members in my administration to develop a national energy policy.
Our energy demand outstrips our supply. We can produce more energy at home while protecting our environment, and we must. We can produce more electricity to meet demand, and we must. We can promote alternative energy sources and conservation, and we must. America must become more energy-independent, and we will.”
In the January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, early in the days of the War on Terror, Bush said,
“Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil.”
As we sat poised to open a second front in the War on Terror in Iraq, in the January 28th, 2003 State of the Union address Bush said,
“Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years,”and called upon a Republican led Congress,
“Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”
Again, in his January 20th, 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush reiterated to Congress,
“Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run - so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was now at $1.58.
We see a similar call from President Bush in the February 2nd, 2005 State of the Union address when he said,
“To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. Nearly four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity grid, and more production here at home, including safe, clean nuclear energy. My Clear Skies legislation will cut power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology — from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources such as ethanol. Four years of debate is enough — I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.”
By the time of the January 31st, 2006 State of the Union address, with the average price of a gallon of gasoline up to $2.31, President Bush said,
“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources. And we are on the threshold of incredible advances. So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative, a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies and clean, safe nuclear energy.”
Part One, Part Two, Part Four