Hysterical Mike McCormack, the Democratic congressman and darling of the nuclear power industry, was at his most feverish pitch recently at a resources conference in Wenatchee, Wash.
Along with a salvo of McCarthyite accusations against critics of the giant energy utility corporations, he had this nonsense to say: “Reducing our imports by a million barrels a day could in the near future mean the loss of a million jobs.”
McCORMACK ENGAGED in the forked-tongue approach toward the nation’s vast waste of energy. While saying waste should be curtailed, he claimed that conserving energy produces unemployment, estimating one job lost for every barrel of oil (or its equivalent) per day that is not consumed.
He is not isolated in his ignorance. Both Chase Manhattan Bank, a big energy investor and creditor, and the American Electric Power Co. have voiced self-serving testimonials for greater sales no matter what the waste.
So has the Ford Administration, which has seen a number of its energy specialists leave in disgust because of the lack of solid White House support for energy conservation. Instead, Mr. Ford avoids seeking legislation to require more fuel-efficient automobiles from GM and company.
In March, one White House official candidly told a scientist-researcher that his superiors wanted as little government inducement toward energy conservation as possible. It is not hard to explain this position — preventing energy waste on behalf of consumers reduces sales and profits for the Exxons and Consolidated Edisons.
HOW MUCH ENERGY do we waste? Sources with- in the Federal Energy Administration have suggested that 40 percent of our energy consumption could be avoided. Such reduction could be achieved through more energy-efficient homes, buildings, automobiles, industrial and commercial practices and pro-consumer utility pricing policies. Such policies would discourage waste by huge electricity users and diminish peak loads.
Sweden, West Germany, France and Switzerland have standards of living comparable to ours. They are not paragons of energy conservation. Yet this country consumes more than twice the energy per capita than those industrialized nations do.
Since energy waste prevention reduces pollution, curbs inflation, improves economic efficiency and advances self-sufficiency, people must be wondering why this message hasn’t reached the Ford administration.
If White House energy advisers William Simon, Frank Zarb and Rogers Morton can take some time away from their incessant huddling with energy industry officials and their on-the-job trainees in government, they may wish to read a report just published by the taxpayer-funded Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California.
Titled “Energy Conservation, Its Nature, Hidden Benefits and Hidden Barriers,” the report presents’ a cool rebuttal to the McCormack-style Jeremiads. Specifically, it states that cutting down on energy waste:
Does not impede economic growth;
Increases over-all employment;
Saves badly needed capital and slows the real rise in the cost of energy;
Gives the country time to develop new sources of safe net energy;
Improves the consumers’ well-being.
AS IF WRITTEN especially for Gerald Ford, the report concludes:
“Energy costs average over 10 percent of the gross national product, so that any government program aimed at curbing the 1974-75 recession-inflation could well employ energy conservation, in order to squeeze unproductive energy dollars back into the non-energy part of the economy. Even before considering the question of how much energy to import, one must confront energy conservation today: inefficient energy use means inefficient (and costly) mis-functions in the American economy.”