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October 17: OPEC launches an oil embargo — and a U.S. recession — on this date in 1973

Motoramic

October 17: OPEC launches an oil embargo — and a U.S. recession — on this date in 1973Gasoline prices, energy independence and the future of more efficient cars have become staples of American political debate thanks to what happened on this date 40 years ago, when the OPEC nations announced an oil embargo against the United States and supporters of Israel. The shockwaves from that act cratered stock markets, sent gas prices soaring and threw U.S. automakers into a crisis that took years to overcome. Miles-long lines at gas stations, the 55 mph speed limit and the first fuel economy standards all became part of the American way of life. And yet: After shunning foreign oil for a decade, the United States relies on imported crude for about 45 percent of its consumption today, compared with 27 percent when the OPEC embargo struck. Most of that comes from friendly sources — Canada, Mexico, Venezuela — but Middle East instability turns out to be the truly renewable form of energy. Here's how John Chancellor broke the news to America in 1973:


Photo: U.S. National Archives via Flickr