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Gas Lines Evoke Memories Of Oil Crises In The 1970s

Gas lines in America may be rare, but they're not unprecedented.

The gas shortage in the Northeast, the result of Superstorm Sandy, is inflicting plenty of pain. But it's a localized phenomenon that's not expected to last for long.

During two separate oil crises in the 1970s, Americans from coast to coast faced persistent gas shortages as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, flexed its muscles and disrupted oil supplies.

In 1973 and again in 1979, drivers frequently faced around-the-block lines when they tried to fill up.

Drivers would go to stations before dawn or late at night, hoping to avoid the lines.

Odd-even rationing was introduced — meaning that if the last digit on your license plate was odd, you could get gas only on odd-numbered days. New Jersey and New York have just reintroduced the system.

Back in the '70s, some gas stations took to posting flags — green if they had gas, yellow if rationing was in effect and red if they were out of gas.

To conserve gas, the maximum speed limit was cut to 55 miles per hour. To cut energy consumption in the broader economy, daylight saving time was introduced year-round at the beginning of 1974, facing criticism from parents whose kids had to go to school before sunrise in the winter months.

When the second crisis hit in 1979-80, President Carter described combating it as the "moral equivalent of war," and many Americans feared that oil shocks would be a recurring nightmare.

Since that crisis, gas prices have surged or fallen, but U.S. oil supplies have been relatively stable, and lines at the pump have, with rare exceptions, remained mercifully short.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Game Of Thrones' Evolves On Women In Explosive Sixth Season

The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones showed a real evolution in the way the show portrays women and in the season finale, several female characters ascended to power. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Glen Weldon from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour and Greta Johnsen, host of the Nerdette podcast, about the show.
NPR

In Quest For Happier Chickens, Perdue Shifts How Birds Live And Die

Perdue Farms, one of the largest poultry companies in the country, says it will change its slaughter methods and also some of its poultry houses. Animal welfare groups are cheering.
WAMU 88.5

Jonathan Rauch On How American Politics Went Insane

Party insiders and backroom deals: One author on why we need to bring back old-time politics.

WAMU 88.5

Episode 5: Why 1986 Still Matters

In 1986, a federal official issued a warning: If Metro continued to expand rapidly, the system faced a future of stark choices over maintaining existing infrastructure. Metro chose expansion. We talk to a historian about that decision. We also hear from a former Metro general manager about the following years, and from an Arlington planner about measuring how riders are responding to SafeTrack.

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