control over production. Thus, the United States is forced to compete for supplies in an increasingly tight world market. The inevitable result is upward pressure on prices and enhanced opportunities for the control of prices by cartel.
The United States is a key factor in the world oil situation. U.S. oil consumption is huge, amounting to almost 30 percent of world consumption. At the same time, its domestic production is declining, probably irreversibly (except for some temporary help from Alaskan production, which will peak in the 1980s). Natural gas production is also on a downward trend. These production trends might be arrested by higher prices and favorable public policies, but any increase above current production levels is likely to be small and to decline after the year 2000. The only readily available large-scale domestic energy sources that could even in principle reverse the decline in domestic energy production over the next three decades—coal and nuclear fission*—face a variety of technical, political, and environmental obstacles, and will be difficult (though not impossible) to expand very rapidly.†