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The satisfaction of virtually every human need for goods and services involves the use of energy. Two-thirds of all energy consumed in the United States is for business-related purposes and a third serves private needs. Both business and private sectors utilize energy primarily for essential purposes and there is very little scope for reduced consumption without harm to the nation's economy and its standard of living.
Obviously, an energy shortage would create a critical situation for the United States, and that is precisely the kind of predicament the nation now is in. All primary sources of energy--oil, natural gas, coal, water power, and nuclear power--currently are in short supply. The shortage has not evolved because the United States lacks sufficient energy resources, but rather because of economic and environmental restraints. These energy resources cannot be developed sufficiently under the system of price regulation that has existed for the last 2 decades and without a more realistic approach to the solution of environmental problems. Consequently, the nation will be forced to rely much more heavily on foreign sources of energy in the future. Most imported energy will be petroleum and ther are various reasons for believing that the inflow would be subject to
frequent and possibly prolonged interruptions. The cost of foreign oil appears certain to rise sharply in the years ahead and, coupled with a rapidly expanding volume of imported oil, soon will lead to an intolerable balance of payments trading deficit.
Clearly, it is imperative that the United States maintain a high degree of energy self-sufficiency. It must develop its own energy resources as rapidly as possible. The capital investment required will be enormous and the consumers of energy, both business and private, necessarily will have to pay more than in the past.
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