Published December 1973 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Meeting Crisis Is a Job for All The major ill effects of the energy crunch are, of course, well known: shortages and higher prices of gasoline for our cars; enforced changes in our driving-for necessity as well as for pleasure; chillier homes, factories, and offices; layoffs in airline, auto, and other industries; a depressed stock market; possible recession. Like ripples in a pond, the full effects spread ever wider, and the full impact of not having enough of the petroleum our world has come to depend on is only beginning to be realized. For Americans, the whole way of life they have taken for granted in recent years can be affected. The assumption, spoken or not, behind virtually all our economic development since World War II has been that energy would forever be plentiful and cheap. Our nation was on wheels, we were fond of saying. Hence, urban sprawl, shopping centers away from downtown, weekends at second homes in the mountains or at the shore-and, yes, central schools to which children were bused-became America's life-style characteristics. As the cars and the freeways burgeoned, more and more workers moved farther and farther away from their jobs, and cities declined. Now, suddenly, a whole new series of new and unexpected questions arise as all of the aspects of our energy situation come into focus. Should workers now move back nearer their jobs? Should we build more freeways? Should we continue to promote tourism? Should valuable electricity continue to be used for professional, night-time athletic contests? And what about gas for pleasure boats, mobile homes and campers, snowmobiles, and even lawnmowers? Meeting the energy cns1s intelligently is a job for all Americans. Federal, state, and city planners; real estate developers; recreation promoters; mass transit advocates-and the architects who, in the past, planned our energy wasting glass-walled buildings -all are involved, as are all Americans. All must join in seeking the answers and the approaches needed for the future. Cooperation, together with American inventiveness and ingenuity, I believe, can get us through the crisis and, perhaps, bring even a better future. It is a time for belt-tightening-- not panic. Changes in the way we have done things are inevitable. But they do not necessarily have , to be changes for the worse.