Energy Crisis of the 1970's

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Background Information:

In the 1970's the United States was the country most reliant on foreign oil. In addition to that, the United States consumed the most amount of oil per capita. With only six percent of the world's population the United States consumed thirty percent of the world's oil. This proved to be detrimental when the United States stopped receiving the necessary amount of oil they needed from foreign countries. The energy crisis started when OPEC ( Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) passed an oil embargo on the United States. This embargo was passed to protest the United States involvement in the Yom Kippur War . While the embargo only lasted from October of 1973 to March or 1974, it had a huge effect on the economy of the United States. The second energy crisis took place in 1979 at the time of the Iranian Revolution , also called the Islamic Revolution. From April of 1979 to April of 1980, the price of oil per barrel rose from $15.85 to $39.50. This is because during this twelve month period, oil production in Iran and Iraq, two of the most oil rich countries, was slowed down dramatically. These two oil crises not only effected our country in the 1970's, its effects can still be noticed today in our automobile industry.

Significance in US History

Gas and Cars
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The Automobile and Gas industries were the two businesses most effected by the energy crises of the 1970's. The lack of oil and gasoline entering the United States during the 70's effected all people who used cars, gas appliances, or any other gas run item. When the cost of barrels of gas increased fourfold, Americans immediately tried changing their ways. However this proved to be more difficult than most Americans expected because everyone relied on gas to get around.
Before 1973, American automobile companies such as Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, and GM made almost all the cars that were driven on American highways. The cars created were large, "gas guzzling" vehicles. However this changed after the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973. Because gas was scarce and expensive, Americans began to look for smaller vehicles. This was when Japanese companies such as Toyota became popular. As Japanese cars became more popular in the United States, American car companies began to struggle. American car companies were forced to start creating smaller, gas efficient vehicles.

Throughout the summer of 1973 and spring of 1974, gas lines for customers could reach hundreds of cars long.
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This image clearly shows that gas prices/barrel jumped dramatically around the years 1973 and 1979. And although they recovered within 10 years after the second energy crisis, it still shows how much the United States depend on oil. The energy crisis's by the Arab Oil Embargo and the Iranian Revolution, forced Americans to look to other resources such as wind and solar. By using wind and solar energy the United States wouldn't be as effected if another energy crisis such as these would happen again.

Fun Facts!!

1. Some Gas stations in the 1970's reserved certain days for people who had license plates ending in even numbers, and other days for license plates ending in odd numbers.

2. The Energy Crisis of the 1970's caused President Nixon to create a speed limit of 55 MPH for all national highways.


" Oil Embargo and Energy Crisis , 1973-1974." DISCovering U.S. History . Gale Research, 1997. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.

"Yom Kippur War." History in Dispute, Vol. 1: The Cold War: First Series. Benjamin Frankel, ed. St. James Press, 2000. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.

" The Iranian Revolution , 1978-1979." DISCovering World History . Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.