October 17, 2008

35 years ago: The oil embargo begins

According to this history of "significant events" in U.S.-Lyban relations, the Arab oil embargo began Oct. 19, 1973 - 35 years ago this Sunday. Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing states followed suit the next day.

The embargo was devastating to the United States - gasoline rationing, soaring prices and long lines at filling stations. It also pushed the government to develop and announced Project Independence to promote domestic energy independence. This first run at energy independence failed even though another energy crisis emerged in the late 1970s - in part due to collusion and unfair trade practices by oil companies. Follow the link at the bottom of this post for details, and for other efforts by oil companies to stymie alternative fuels.

(For more info on Project Independence - from Time magazine - click here.)

For an interesting take on the oil embargo, check out this article from Wired.

As the article noted, the embargo awakened the West to just how dependent it was on Middle Eastern oil, and how fragile that lifeline really was (we're more dependent today). Hence, Project Independence.

The embargo was the culmination of a decision to use oil as a weapon - it was the ultimate trump card as the rest of the world didn't have a choice. Pay the piper or no oil. And we're still paying today. But can ethanol change the trump suit?

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