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Coal, Power, and the Long Energy Crisis of the 1970s

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Abstract:

Historians of the modern world are familiar with the 1970s energy crisis. Images of long lines, fuel rationing, and empty pumps at gas stations have become synonymous with the most impactful of that decades’ political, economic and social transformations. But powerful images sometimes obscure as much as they reveal. In this case, historians who have focused on the post-1973 oil crisis have undervalued the fact that in the U.S., politicians, business leaders, and the popular press became concerned with something they called the “energy crisis” during the late 1960s. This is unfortunate because the earlier crisis not only predates the oil embargo of 1973, but also seemed present an even more existential threat that the later oil shortages. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was not automobile fuel shortages that worried the nation, but rather the growing scarcity of electricity. As experts warned that demand for electric power had outstripped the nation’s utility and fuel companies’ productive capacity, business leaders and lawmakers painted dire futures in which regular blackouts led to economic collapse. This paper considers the significance of this earlier energy crisis by viewing it through the lens of coal, which was the nation’s most important fuel for electrical production. It draws on the archives of coal companies and the United Mine Workers of America, as well as press coverage and the legislative record, to examine the impact of energy shortages on the interactions and relationships between workers, management, lobbyists, and politicians during the early 1970s.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171006_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Free, Jonathan. "Coal, Power, and the Long Energy Crisis of the 1970s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171006_index.html>

APA Citation:

Free, J. "Coal, Power, and the Long Energy Crisis of the 1970s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171006_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Historians of the modern world are familiar with the 1970s energy crisis. Images of long lines, fuel rationing, and empty pumps at gas stations have become synonymous with the most impactful of that decades’ political, economic and social transformations. But powerful images sometimes obscure as much as they reveal. In this case, historians who have focused on the post-1973 oil crisis have undervalued the fact that in the U.S., politicians, business leaders, and the popular press became concerned with something they called the “energy crisis” during the late 1960s. This is unfortunate because the earlier crisis not only predates the oil embargo of 1973, but also seemed present an even more existential threat that the later oil shortages. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was not automobile fuel shortages that worried the nation, but rather the growing scarcity of electricity. As experts warned that demand for electric power had outstripped the nation’s utility and fuel companies’ productive capacity, business leaders and lawmakers painted dire futures in which regular blackouts led to economic collapse. This paper considers the significance of this earlier energy crisis by viewing it through the lens of coal, which was the nation’s most important fuel for electrical production. It draws on the archives of coal companies and the United Mine Workers of America, as well as press coverage and the legislative record, to examine the impact of energy shortages on the interactions and relationships between workers, management, lobbyists, and politicians during the early 1970s.


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A Patchwork of Land Rights: The 1970s Energy Crisis and Coal in the American West


 
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