OIL: Guessing What's There

"Estimating oil reserves is like guessing the number of beans in a jar—only the jars are buried deep underground and you aren't even sure exactly where they are hidden."

That comment by an oil expert points to one of the most troublesome problems facing Jimmy Carter in selling his energy program. The President based his case for urgent conservation efforts partly on a CIA study that forecasts serious world petroleum shortages and economic upheavals as early as the mid-1980s. No sooner had he stopped speaking, however, than critics—most notably Ralph Nader—began contending that...

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