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Energy Crisis


In 1979, the United States was in the throes of an energy crisis following the cutoff of Iranian oil. President Jimmy Carter said reserve supplies of oil were sufficient if people conserved, and there was no need to panic. But he also said it was crucial for the country to break its dependence on foreign oil.

Carter said states should enact odd-even gasoline rules that would permit drivers to purchase gasoline every other day, depending on the last number of the license plate. Carter also urged states to rigidly enforce the 55 mile per hour speed limit. Energy Secretary Charles Duncan said the slower speed could save 100,000 barrels of oil a day.

North Dakota Governor Arthur A. Link said he would impose an emergency energy conservation plan if it became necessary. He said he had no immediate plans for gas rationing or purchase limitations. He was very firm in stating that farmers would have priority for fuel use. Tax Commissioner Byron Dorgan noted that gasoline sales in the state were on the decline, with higher prices persuading consumers to be more conscious about conserving energy. Prices in North Dakota had spiked to an average price of about 96 cents per gallon, an increase of 45%. Sales of heating fuels, diesel, butane, and propane also showed a drop.

On this date in 1979, the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican reported that archaeologists were keeping busy because of the energy crisis, thanks to expanded energy development in the western part of the state. Walter Bailey, historic preservation planner, explained that proposed sites had to be investigated for cultural significance prior to development. His office had conducted 500 resource investigations over the previous year.

About 300 sites of archeological value were identified that were not previously known. Many were teepee rings, homesteads, and pioneer trails. Perhaps the most important find were two Indian teepees in the Badlands estimated to be over 100 years old.

Bailey said the energy development proved a benefit to archaeological discovery. He thought it likely that most of the sites would not have been found had it not been for the industry’s expansion.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, 17 November, 1979:

“Energy Activity Keeps Archeologists Busy”

“Gasoline, Fuel Oils Use Shows Downturn in State”

“Carter Asks Governors to Help Out”

“Link – Iran Crisis May Prompt State Emergency Fuel Program”