AUGUST 1, 1960
NEW YORK—A correspondent has drawn my attention to the fact that Concurrent Resolution 73, which calls for the creation of a joint committee to study the need for a national fuels policy, is still awaiting action in Congress. According to my correspondent there is no opposition to this resolution by the small oil companies, but the international group of oil companies is fighting it. Why should they object to such a study?
Vice-president William R. Connole of the Federal Power Commission made a statement some time ago that stressed the incredible rate at which our "energy" resources are being used up. He said, "All the fossil fuel consumed in the history of the world prior to the year 1900 would last only five years at today's rate of consumption." Surely there can be no question about the necessity of studying our sources of fuels and carefully watching their rate of depletion.
The coal industry in this country has been a sick industry for a long time. It is true that we have had many committees studying the coal industry, but most of the studies that I knew about when I was in Washington ended up in nice pigeon-holes and nothing was done to carry out their recommendations.
In the last year or so, the deplorable conditions of the people in the mining areas of West Virginia have attracted much well-deserved sympathy. The most shocking part of it is, however, that these conditions are far from new. In the depression years of the early '30s the mining industry suffered terribly in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and southern Illinois. People lived in conditons that should not be permitted, under our American standards.
But we have not yet been moved to make a really fundamental study of the difficulties which must be met, and which I think could be met by a national fuels policy. Certainly this August session of Congress should take up Concurrent Resolution 73 and start a study which cannot be ignored and which will be acted upon.
Perhaps our candidates in the Democratic party, at least, will think it worthwhile to do something constructive—even, if necessary, by bringing in new industries where coal mining can no longer carry on—rather than merely shipping in temporary relief, which is no solution to the basic problem.
Here in New York we are all grateful that the sanitation union's strike is over, for in a city as large as this the non-collection of garbage is a serious menace to health. Before the men went back to work last Friday, one was already conscious of unpleasant smells in many areas. It was truly essential that they be removed as quickly as possible.