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Allocation, Price Control and the FEA: Regulatory Policy and Practice in the Political Arena

Stephen A. Wakefield, Proceedings of 21st Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1975)

On August 15, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon announced a 90-day freeze on wages, salaries, prices and rents.1 For the first time, pervasive economic controls had been imposed upon a peacetime America.

The authority for the President's action derived from the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 and the Economic Stabilization Act Amendments of 1971.2

At midnight April 30, 1974, Presidential authority to issue and enforce mandatory wage and price controls over the entire American economy under the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970, as amended, passed into history. The freedom from governmental economic controls and flexibilities now available to American industry in general, however, was not to be permitted to the petroleum industry, for on November 27, 1973, President Nixon had signed into law the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973.3

Although the phrase energy crisis first came into popular usage following the Arab embargo instituted in [258] mid-October, 1973, the tightening of energy supplies available to meet American demands had passed from a dark cloud on the horizon to visible shortages of a few petroleum products which had begun to constrict certain markets by the spring and summer of 1973. The immediate cause of this tightness at that time was a combination of the accelerating natural gas shortage and the disappearance of surplus refi