A history of oil problems

OPEC headquarters in Vienna

KAI RYSSDAL: OPEC met today to discuss oil prices. The cartel doesn't like 'em one bit. Crude's been falling for about three months. The Saudi oil minister said today he's fine with a million barrel a day cut in production. That could mean a familiar pain at the pump. But it's been a whole lot worse before, as Stacey Vanek Smith reports.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: What led to the creation of a national maximum speed limit? And the expansion of year-round daylight savings time? Here's a hint . . .

[Car sound]

Both were put in place to conserve oil. The 55-mile-an-hour cap was meant to stretch the gas tank. And daylight savings time helped schools and businesses cut heating oil use.

It all started this week back in 1973. That's when the Arab countries in OPEC shut off the spigot to the U.S. and much of Europe. They were protesting Western support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

The embargo caused a global recession, and the effects on our oil-thirsty economy were drastic. Gas prices quadrupled. And many filling stations had no fuel, so drivers often waited for hours to gas up.

And the crisis ultimately led to the creation of the Department of Energy.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

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