[No More Oil, America!]

What Price America
Program No. 24
Jul 15 1939 

(Music. Theme--Up and diminuendo.)

VOICE (dramatically). What Price America!

(Music. Up--Ominous and under.)

(Sound. Horses straining-- Creak and clank of harness-- Cries of the 

SECOND VOICE (calling above sound). Plow up the soil! Plow up the soil!

(Sound. Segues to pick axes ringing into rock.)

THIRD VOICE (calling above sound). Dig into the ground--Silver! Gold! Coal! 
Copper! Dig up the ground!

(Sound. Segues to chopping of trees-- Crash of falling timber.)

FOURTH VOICE (calling above sound). Chop down the trees! Destroy the forests! 
Chop down the trees!

(Music. Dissonant chord and out sharply.)


VOICE (dramatically). This waste must stop!

SECOND VOICE. Waste must give way to conservation.

THIRD VOICE (quietly, questioningly). But what is conservation?

VOICE. The Department of the Interior is your agency of Government charged 
with protecting and safeguarding the majority of your natural resources.

SECOND VOICE. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of that Department, has said, 
"Conservation is the wise use of those gifts of nature upon which we rely for 
support, comfort, and spiritual solace. Every natural resource must be made to 
serve mankind while preserving all that is possible for the needs of future 

VOICE. What is our obligation in this Democracy to use our resources wisely? 
Listen to the story of our past; hear of our triumphs and failures; know how 
to protect our heritage and the heritage of our children; Listen America!

(Music. Up and under.)

VOICE. Supposing now--this very minute--the unbending finger of fate wrote a 
gigantic message in the sky--"No More Oil, America!" Supposing now--this very 
minute---every petroleum product you have were suddenly denied you! This, 
then, would be you, America!

(Music. Up wildly and fade.)

(Sound. Suggest utter confusion and hysteria of a population in and under. 
Automobile horns, in hectic symphony.)

(The following, rapidly, one after the other:)

DOCTOR. I'm a doctor. I must get there at once. A woman is dying!

ATTENDANT. Sorry, Doc. We haven't a drop of gasoline in the station.

(Sound. Fire siren.)

FIREMAN (shouting). It's the schoolhouse! And we can't move our fire engines!

TRUCKDRIVER (through filter). Listen boss, I'm carryin' perishable goods-- 
fruit and vegetables--on this truck. How am I gonna get them there before they 

TICKET AGENT. The Twentieth Century Limited can't leave this station, Madam. 
You'll have to get to New York by stagecoach.

FARMER (surprised). Well I'll be doggone. I can't use my tractor. I can't plow 
my farm.

HUSBAND (ordering wife). Get the children. We'll leave the house and find a 
restaurant where they cook with a coal stove.

DISPATCHER (droning, via radio). All airplanes are grounded. All airplanes are 

BOSS. You men needn't report to work tomorrow. This plant's shutting down. 
Can't run our machines without oil.

(Sound: Telegraph key. In and under.)

TELEGRAPHER. S O S. S O S. Steamer America calling. Stopped in mid-ocean. One 
thousand aboard. Send help at once.

MAN. Get some candles, Martha, or we won't have light.

ADMIRAL (dictating). To the Navy Department: Fleet unable to leave port for 
Pacific coast as ordered. [Fade.] Guns useless without oil. Awaiting further 
word on...

(Crowd up and fade.)

VOICE. Preposterous, ridiculous, bunkum, rot?-- No, America. Silly, 
imaginative, extravagant?-- No, indeed, America. Our entire modern 
civilization depends on oil. It is absolutely irreplaceable. Dissipate this 
one natural resource of ours, and that danger is our danger. It would creep 
upon us slowly, however softly, so we would not notice at first. [Suddenly.] 
America, the seeds for such a calamity already have been sown, are continuing 
to be sown now.

(Music: Up and fade under.)

SECOND VOICE. The story of the Petroleum Industry begins with an idea born in 
the mind of a man such as you and I. The man, George Bissell, a New Englander. 
The scene, New York City. The time, the summer of 1856. Bissel walking along 
the street catches sight of a strange looking bottle in the window of a drug 
store--enters--[fade] and is greeted by the druggist.

DRUGGIST. Yes, sir. What can I do for you, sir?

BISSELL. That bottle in the window.

DRUGGIST. Yessir. Kier's Petroleum or Rock Oil. Here's a bottle right here, 
sir. Wonderful curative powers-- A natural remedy. Read what it says on the 

BISSELL (reads):
"The healthful balm, from Nature's secret spring,
The bloom of health and life to man will bring;
As from her depths this magic liquid flows
To calm our sufferings and assuage our woes."

DRUGGIST. It's marvelous. I've sold hundreds of bottles-- May I ask you your 
ailment, sir?

BISSELL (quietly). I don't have an ailment, friend. Only an idea.

DRUGGIST (perplexed). An i--?

BISSELL. How much is it?

DRUGGIST. Fifty cents.

BISSELL. That's cheap, for what it may do for me-- I'll take it.

(Music: in and down to fade.)

VOICE. Back to New Haven hurries George Bissell--calls a meeting of the 
stockholders of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Co.

(Murmur of group in meeting, in. Stops when Bissell speaks.)

BISSELL. Gentlemen, I call your attention not to the advertising of the 
medicinal properties in the bottle, but to the picture of the salt well on the 
label, and to what is written under it.

FIRST STOCKHOLDER. It says: "Procured from a well in Allegheny County, Pa., 
400 feet below the Earth's surface."

ALL. (Ad Lib interest.)

BISSELL (continuing). Oil has been appearing in salt wells for years, as you 
all know, cursed by the salt men, who sometimes have to abandon a well because 
of it---

SECOND STOCKHOLDER (calling out). What's your point, Mr. Bissell?

BISSELL. Well, you remember the recommendations made to us 3 years ago by 
Professor Silliman of Yale, the chemistry professor to whom we gave samples of 
oil from our properties near Titusville, Pa.?

ALL. (Ad lib replies.)

FIRST STOCKHOLDER. Professor Silliman was sure we had a raw material from 
which we could inexpensively manufacture many valuable products.

SECOND STOCKHOLDER (adding). Could be used like coal oil, as an illuminant. 

BISSELL. Well, gentlemen, if you can sink an artesian well for salt, and get 
oil, I believe you can sink a well for oil and get oil.

ALL. (Ad lib assent.)

BISSELL. Let's send a man to Titusville to do just that.

ALL. (Ad lib general endorsement and enthusiasm.)

(Music: In and fade under.)

VOICE. Now our man is E. L. Drake, an ex-railroad conductor, promptly 
christened "Colonel" for business purposes. To Titusville he goes in May 1858, 
and after futile first attempts to dig a well, decides upon drilling. In June 
1859, drilling tools, hand-made by "Uncle Billy" Smith, the town blacksmith 
and an experienced brine-well driller, begin drilling into the earth. Days--
weeks go by, with no results. Faithfully "Colonel" Drake returns to his well 
each day, suffers the jibes of his neighbors.

(Sound: Drilling in, and under.)

FIRST RESIDENT (wise guy). What you doin', Colonel? Diggin' for worms?

OTHERS. (Laugh loudly at the Colonel.)

SECOND RESIDENT (shouting, off). Makes a nice musical noise anyway, eh, 

OTHERS. (Laugh derisively.)

THIRD RESIDENT (to friend). No fool like a Yankee fool!

FRIEND. Drake's folly!

OTHERS. (Laugh.)

DRAKE (simply, undiscouraged). There's oil here, gentlemen. And wal, I intend 
to get it.

OTHERS. (Laugh--Fade.)

(Music: In and down to fade.)

VOICE. Eighty years ago this summer--August 27, 1859--the sleepy town of 
Titusville was suddenly aroused by the excited entrance of Uncle Billy's son 
astride a mule.

(Sound: Hoofs of mule along the street.)

SONNY SMITH (shouting wildly). Oil! Oil!

VOICES. (Ad lib questions, surprise, astonishment.)

SONNY SMITH (shouting). Oil! Oil! See?---

VOICES (take up the cry). Oil! Oil!

LOUD VOICE (shouting). The Yankee's struck oil!

Crowd greatly excited.

(Music: In and under.)

VOICE. Yes, the Yankee struck oil. With the drill at 69 and 1/2 feet--
suddenly, unexpectedly, there it was. It is a day that Titusville will never 
forget. Everyone in town drops what he is doing and rushes out, to find "Uncle 
Billy" calmly, unexcitedly filling a tub, tin cans, barrels, anything that he 
could lay his hands on, with that dark green liquid that was to put a nation 
on wheels, usher in a totally new civilization.

(Music: Up and down.)

VOICE. But our story is a story of waste. And it begins right there, in 
Titusville. Picture if you can a town overrun--hundreds, thousands coming from 
far and near, grabbing land, seeking ways to drill, striking oil--oil!

(Sound: Symphony of drills, in and under.)

ASSISTANT (shouting). Jenkins brought in a new well! Jenkins!

BOSS (to assistant). Get the land next to Jenkins! Drill a new well as close 
to his as you can! We'll draw from that same pool for ourselves! [Fade.] 
Hurry! [A slight pause.]

ASSISTANT. Jenkins is drilling another well to offset ours!

BOSS. Then we'll drill another well to offset the new one! Hurry--First man 
down gets the most oil!

(Music: In and down excitingly.)

VOICE. On and on--offset well to match offset well--5, 10, 15 wells where one 
would do. Neighboring property owners drawing oil from the same pool-- 
hurriedly, clumsily--no thought of waste.

SECOND VOICE (explaining). It's like straws in a chocolate soda. You draw on 
yours--I draw on mine. The fastest gets the most.

VOICE (emphasizing). Only, you two get all the chocolate soda. With an oil 
well you just get part of the oil. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of 
barrels are left in the earth, never to be brought to the surface.

SECOND VOICE. Gas is blown off into the air--gone forever!

OILMAN (coming on). Who wants gas? I'm interested in oil not gas!

THIRD VOICE (quietly). Don't you realize that it's the pressure of gas that 
forces up the oil. Waste that gas and you lose oil. (Warning.) Soon there 
won't be any more oil coming out of your well.

OILMAN. There are other wells to dig, aren't there? Tell it to John Paul 

VOICE. Gas, that could have been used for lighting, heating, cooking--gone 
with the wind! Transportation, too, is a problem that breeds waste.

BOSS (staccato). Are you a teamster?


BOSS. You're hired! Get me more men and I'll pay you a bonus for every one you 
get. I've got to move this oil!

VOICE. Oil! Oil! Black gold! "Got to be moved"! Mile after mile of wagons 
wallow through the muddy road.

(Sound: Heavy oil wagons. Horses straining. Whips snapping.)

TEAMSTER (urging horses). Git on there, Jerry! Giddup, now!

(Sound: Wagon passing by.)

WAGONER (calling out, off). He's sinking in that mud, Mister. He'll never get 
out of that. You're stuck! [Laughs.]

TEAMSTER (cursing). Dag blast it!

WAGONER. Leave yer oil or dump it, Mister, and go back and get a new load. 
There's a lot more where it came from! [Laughs.]

VOICE. Oil--Shipped on flat barges that cover a river like a blanket.

SECOND OILMAN. I've an idea. Let's dam up the water like they do during a log 
jam. Then open the dam and let the water carry those barges downstream!

THIRD VOICE (cautioning). But that will smash some of the rafts, break open 
the barrels, and waste hundreds of gallons of oil.

SECOND OILMAN (unconcerned). What of it? There's a lot more where it came 

VOICE. Waste--waste. A new resource--a young nation. A young nation out to 
"get rich quick!" Oil now, means money now, $20 a barrel! Why worry about 

(Music: In and up then down.)

VOICE. Meanwhile, America lights its homes with kerosene lamps and thinks it's 
wonderful. Kerosene is what oilmen are after--and they curse loudly a 
bothersome byproduct.

THIRD OILMAN (angrily). That darn gasoline; more trouble than it's worth.

WORKER. What'll we do with it?

THIRD OILMAN (impatiently). Throw it away. Do anything, but get rid of it.

WORKER (suddenly). I know. Tomorrow's the Fourth of July.

SECOND OILMAN (waiting). Yeah?

WORKER. Why not dump that gasoline in the river? Get all of the other oilmen 
to do the same. Most of 'em are doing it anyway.

OILMAN (interested). Yeah?

WORKER. Then we'll put a match to it and let it burn. What a sight!

OILMAN (laughing loudly). Sure, sure; that's fine. At least that gasoline will 
give us a laugh. Go ahead. It'll be patriotic. [Laughs fading.]

(Music: Up and down.)

VOICE. Gasoline, gasoline you'll never see again, America--despised, thrown 
away as fast as it is found. Millions of gallons you might have filled your 
car with today will never be available to you because of that waste.

SECOND VOICE. The 2,000 barrels of oil produced in 1859 doubled hundreds of 
times with the passing of the years. New oil fields spring up to join 
Titusville; oil fields elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, West Virginia, 
Kansas, Kentucky, California. Oil, get it out of the ground, get it to 
America. It is 1865; the Civil War is over and soldiers are pouring into the 
oil fields to woo dame fortune. In Titusville, Samuel Van Syckel sits with his 
friends [fade] in warm discussion.

SYCKEL (determined). I don't care who has failed to build a pipe line! Water 
can be pumped uphill and down--why not oil? Come in with me, friends, and 
we'll build a successful pipe line to transport oil.

FIRST FRIEND. Impossible, Sam. It won't work.

SYCKEL. (insistent). It will!

SECOND FRIEND. You'd be a fool to try it, Sam. (Pause.)

SYCKEL (quietly). I can see that I've got to talk with men of imagination. 
(Pause.) Excuse me, gentlemen.

(Sound: Footsteps fading as he walks off.)

FIRST FRIEND (sighing). Gets me how some people take to crazy ideas.

(Music: In and down to fade.)

SECOND VOICE. Syckel finds friends "with imagination," and after a period of 
experimentation begins to lay a two-inch pipe line the 4 miles from Pithole to 
Miller Farm, 2 feet underground to be "out of the way of the farmer's plow".

(Sound: Men letting pipe down into trench, digging, etc.)

FOREMAN (cautioning). Easy does it men; easy.

TEAMSTER (off, shouting an order). Drop that pipe!

VOICES OF WORKMEN (frightened). It's the teamsters!

FOREMAN (shouting back, belligerently). What do you teamsters want?

TEAMSTER (off). There ain't gonna be no pipe line laid, Mister. That's our 
business, carrying oil. You ain't got no right doin' us outta work!

FOREMAN (aside--to his men). Get your guns, men. [Calling out, aloud.] This 
pipe's goin' down!

TEAMSTER (off, shouting warning). We'll rip it up fast as you lay it!

FOREMAN (aside to his men). All set men?

WORKMEN (ad lib replies confidentially.)

FOREMAN (shouting defiantly to teamsters). Try it!

TEAMSTER (still off, pause, then). Oh, guns now, eh? (Sarcastically.) The guns 
Mr. Van Syckel ordered from New York. (Defiantly.) We ain't afraid of them!

FOREMAN (shouting challenge.) Come ahead, then!

TEAMSTER (to his mates). All right boys!--let's go!

TEAMSTERS (shouting as they run forward).

FOREMAN (aside). Shoot over their heads first, men. (Aloud.) Fire!

(Sound: Volley of Rifles.)

A WORKMAN (laughing). Look at 'em run!

(Music: In and down.)

SECOND VOICE. In one month Van Syckel's 4 mile pipe line is completed. At one 
dollar tariff a barrel, 800 barrels of oil are pumped through it, with little 
or no leakage, in the course of a day. It marks the beginning of the end of 
teamsters for oil. America now has transportation for its oil--pipe lines and 
railroad--railroad with strange new oil-carrying tanks mounted on flatcars.

(Music: Up and down.)

VOICE. The pipe lines that follow in the wake of Van Syckel's do not by any 
means mark the end of waste in the oil industry. Oil and gas both continue to 
gush forth in profusion. No one believes either will ever give out. When wells 
cease to produce commercial quantities of oil, owners abandon them--chase 
"God's Gold" to new fields. That oil they leave in the ground--some day it 
will cost you, America, a small fortune to get at it again.--But in 1866 that 
doesn't matter. Get oil! Store it in tanks if you can't sell it. But get oil! 

SECOND VOICE (shouting). Over production! Oil, now 10 cents a barrel, compared 
to twenty dollars a barrel when Drake sold it. Oil bubbles burst in the face 
of investors. At a meeting of the Producers Protection Association----

CHAIRMAN (fading on). And those, gentleman, are the facts--we must face them. 
We must cut down our oil production until our surplus is used or we're ruined
--all of us!

FIRST PRODUCER (off, calling out). Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN. Mr. Brown.

FIRST PRODUCER (off). May I add that unless we conserve our oil supply, the 
day may not be far distant when we won't have any oil to sell--even at 10 
cents a barrel!

CHAIRMAN (sternly.) Mr. Brown, we're in this business to make money--we, not 
our grandchildren.

PRODUCERS (ad lib general agreement.)

A PRODUCER (off). What we're here for is to get the price of oil raised!

SECOND PRODUCER (off). Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN. Yes, Mr. Thomas--go ahead.

SECOND PRODUCER. I move the suggestion advanced earlier. Let us shut down all 
work on Sundays and start no new wells for 90 days.

THIRD PRODUCER. I second the motion!

ALL. (Ad lib general agreement.)

THIRD PRODUCER (off; objecting). How about me? I'm new to the game. You men 
have your oil. I'm just beginning to get mine.

ALL (hoot him down.)

CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, you've heard the motion. All in favor say "aye!"

ALL. Aye!

(Music: In and up, then down.)

VOICE. The first attempt to control petroleum production found those agreeing 
to limit themselves to 15,000 barrels a day, overproducing 5,000 barrels, 
owing to a guaranteed price contracted for by a refiners association.--The 
contract was canceled. This, like many other attempts to come, was a failure.

(Music: Up and down to fade.)

SECOND VOICE. Now let us turn to gas, for gas begins to occupy attention. 
Wells go down, seeking gas alone. In the town of Titusville, in 1872, gas is 
ready to be piped from the Newton well, 5 miles away to 250 homes and 
industries. All Titusville awaits the moment. There is gaiety--celebration.

(Music: Up lively and under.)

(Carnival crowd in and under.)

OLD TIMER. I never thought I'd live to see this day.

MAN. We won't have to trim our lamp wicks anymore and fill those old lamps 
every day.

OLD TIMER. We'll get a light that we can really see by---

YOUNG MAN (off, crying out). Here it comes!

(Cheers of populace.)

THIRD MAN (thrilled). Look--look at all those homes light up. All aglow like a 
Christmas tree. It's beautiful--beautiful.

(Music: In and out.)

VOICE. Gas, America--gas to light homes, to be used as fuel for cooking and 
for industry!

SECOND VOICE (coming on). Surely that stopped the waste of gas. Now there's a 
valuable use for it--now it's worth plenty.

VOICE (sadly). No--no. The waste goes on. It is not the first time that man 
played the fool--it won't be the last. When the famous Grapeville gas well is 
later discovered at Murrysville, Pennsylvania, there will be mile after mile 
of burning gas flares, just for extravagant display.

SECOND VOICE (protesting). But why--why?

VOICE (simply). They honestly believe the gas supply is unlimited. [Music]. 
Now let us skip through the years a little more rapidly--for each, adding 
another black mark against the word "waste," and another zero for 
"conservation." More wells, more oil taken from the ground. At Bradford Field, 
the largest of its time--nearly 15,000 wells are drilled--hundreds a month--
with absolutely no market to be found for their product.

SECOND VOICE (dramatically). In 1884 there is enough oil stored there alone to 
meet the demands of the refiners for over 19 months if all fields quit 

VOICE. Another curtailing movement--a big one. But once prices rise, oil wells 
sink again. America is still a young nation. It has a lot to learn----

(Music: Up and out.)

(Crowd laughing, in and hold under.)

VOICE. It is 1892--a man named Charles E. Duryea sits in a horseless carriage, 
in Springfield, Massachusetts and insists to a laughing crowd (fade) that he 
doesn't need a horse---

BYSTANDER (laughing). You mean to sit there and say that you don't need a 
horse to make this thing go?

DURYEA (about 40; at ease). No; not at all.

SECOND BYSTANDER. Then [laughing] how will your buggy move?

DURYEA. The power of this internal combustion engine will move it.

(All laugh hysterically as if it's a big joke.)

THIRD BYSTANDER (between laughs). A magic engine, eh? And what makes the 
engine go?

DURYEA (carefully). Gas-o-line.

SECOND BYSTANDER (as if it's ridiculous). Gasoline ain't no good for that---

DURYEA. You're mistaken my friend. It will make this carriage move just as if 
it were pulled by horses.

(All laugh. Finally.)

DURYEA. Well, neighbors--I can see I've got to prove it. Very well. 
[Warningly.] Stand out of the way, please.

(Sound: Old horseless carriage being cranked; engine starting; then the 
carriage moving, and fading out; crowd stops laughing meanwhile; quiet, then.)

BYSTANDER (completely taken back.) Well I'll be switched!

(Music: In and fade under.)

VOICE. And so the automobile comes to man--5 cars produced in 1895, 25 cars in 
1896, 100 cars in 1897, 11,000 cars in 1903. Petroleum now has a new market. 
No longer is gasoline to be cursed as a nuisance!

SECOND VOICE. But 1903 saw a further innovation--the first inkling of still 
another demand for gasoline. To Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, North 
Carolina, two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright take a strange mechanical 
bird. Orville enters it--(fade) Wilbur stands alongside.

WILBUR. Ready, Orville?

ORVILLE (slightly off). Yes; let her go.

(Sound: Propeller of plane; then plane rising. Hold under.)

VOICE. Twelve seconds in the air--the first successful flight in a heavier 
than air machine! Here is something that will never be able to exist without 

(Sound: Out.)

SECOND VOICE. And 1 year later, to America is brought sensationally home still 
another future for petroleum. Listen--the captain of the steamship Nebraska is 
writing in his log----

(Sound: Pen scratching in and under.)

CAPTAIN (fading on). Arrived in the port of New York safely. We have come 
12,745 miles from San Francisco burning oil instead of coal---California oil. 
And we are going back on oil.

(Music: In and out.)

VOICE. The automobile, the airplane, the steamship--land, air, and sea--oil is 
soon to be monarch. As if foreseeing this demand, the years 1901 to 1905 found 
oil gushing forth in huge quantities in Texas and Oklahoma.

(Sound: Telegraph key, in and under.)

TELEGRAPHER. Spindletop, Tex.--500,000 barrels of oil flow before we can shut 
in. It's a gusher!

(Sound: Telegraph key up loud and under.)

SECOND TELEGRAPHER. Glenn pool, Oklahoma Territory. This field sending oil 
production up 5 million barrels.

(Sound: Out.)

VOICE. Apparently everywhere--oil. How much more might be produced and 
marketed at a reasonable price, if scientific methods are used, can only be 
estimated. Waste gnaws not only underground, but above ground, due to earthen 
storage. Twenty-five cents a barrel forces operators in other fields to 
produce at a loss. But owners of the new gusher wells are deaf to all reason. 
Get it while the getting is good; every man for himself!

(Music: In and down.)

VOICE. Glenn pool is followed by Cushing field in 1912. A new discovery of 
field, Eldorado, Kans., is credited to the State geologist in 1913. Again the 
market breaks; again regulation is attempted. Oklahoma passes an oil-
conservation law, which prohibits waste. Then new demands help produce a 
scarcity. But again new fields are found. Mars sends a war to take all these 
new fields can produce. Soon America joins the fighting.

(Music: "Over There," in and under.)

SECOND VOICE. 1918, in France--Clemenceau speaks--

CLEMENCEAU (French accent). At this decisive moment, the French Army must not 
be exposed to scarcity of petrol. A failure in the supply would cause the 
immediate paralysis of our armies, and might compel a peace unfavorable. If 
the Allies do not wish to lose the war at the moment of the great German 
offensive, they must not let France lack petrol, which is as necessary as 

(Music: Up and down.)

VOICE. America listens, declares "gasolineless Sundays," sends its oil abroad. 
"The torch borne high on Flanders Field is a gasoline torch." Truly the Allies 
float to victory on a wave of oil, but 80 percent of it is American oil. Soon 
statistics will show that we are depleting our supply of oil far in excess of 
the rate that foreign countries use theirs.

(Music: Up and out.)

SECOND VOICE. On through the years we go.

VOICE. 1920--California produces 68 billion feet of gas.

SECOND VOICE. Six billion twenty million feet of that is wasted.

VOICE. 1923--production, 300 billion.

SECOND VOICE. Wastage--190 billion.

VOICE. Writes President Calvin Coolidge to the Secretaries of War, Navy, 
Interior, and Commerce, in December 1924--

COOLIDGE. Sirs: It is evident that the present methods of capturing our oil 
deposits is wasteful to an alarming degree. It is even probable that the 
supremacy of nations may be determined by the possession of available 
petroleum and its products. We are not today facing an undersupply of oil. The 
production of our 300,000 wells is in excess of our immediate requirements. 
That overproduction in itself encourages cheapness, which in turn leads to 
wastefulness and disregard of essential values. I have constituted a Federal 
Oil Conservation Board to study the Government's responsibilities.

SECOND VOICE. The Government's responsibilities. Your responsibilities. At 
last the Federal Government steps into the picture to conserve oil.

VOICE (quickly). More figures. For California alone, 1920-32: Gas, one of your 
essential natural resources, wasted to the tune of over 1 trillion feet.

CONSUMER (uninterested). Ah; figures, figures, figures----

SECOND VOICE (snapping the challenge). All right, let's speak in human terms. 
Listen! The place: office of the local gas company; the manager is speaking to 
a tired and discouraged customer:

MANAGER (crisply). Sorry, Mr. Murphy, we'll have to shut off your gas if you 
don't pay your bill.

MURPHY (pleading). But it's such a big bill. All I'm askin' for is time. I've 
got to have gas in my home. As soon as I get on my feet, sir, I'll----

MANAGER (cutting him short). Sorry, Mr. Murphy---

VOICE (in contrast). Listen, 90 percent of the gas produced around Oklahoma 
City in 1933 was wasted--enough gas to provide all the fuel for a city of 
50,000 population for 75 years!

MANAGER (mechanically). Sorry, Mr. Murphy.

VOICE. Listen! In 1934, at Kettleman Hills, Calif., enough gas was wasted per 
day to supply the industrial needs of all San Francisco and the whole northern 
part of the State!

MANAGER (mechanically). Sorry, Mr. Murphy.

VOICE. Listen. In 1934, in the Texas Panhandle, 1 billion cubic feet of gas a 
day was going to waste, enough gas to gin all the cotton grown in Texas, and 
over 800 million bales more.

MANAGER (mechanically). Sorry, Mr. Murphy.

VOICE. Listen! The loss of gas in the Texas Panhandle means millions of 
barrels of easily recoverable oil will stick in the sands--enough to supply 
the entire Nation for about 6 months!

MANAGER. Sorry, Mr. Murphy.

VOICE. Listen! It means the loss of enough gasoline to fill up every car in 
the country--26,000,000 in 1935--more than 40 times!

MANAGER (mechanically). Sorry, Mr. Murphy.

VOICE. Listen! In 1936, every 24 hours saw enough gas blown into the air and 
wasted in Rodessa field, Louisiana, to equal half the gas burned daily by all 
the domestic consumers in the United States!

MANAGER (rapidly, as if seeking to escape the facts). Sorry, Mr. Murphy. 
Sorry, Mrs. Jones. Sorry, Mr. Brown. Sorry, Mrs. Smith. Sorry, sorry, sorry, 
sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry----

(Music: In and up crescendo, drowning out speaker, then under.)

VOICE. America! Nature, in a couple of thousand years, can rebuild for us our 
eroded soil; give us a new protective forest and a grass mantle to take the 
place of that we foolishly destroy. But not so with oil. Our limited supply is 
irreplaceable. Once gone, forever gone. For its waste, you, not the producer, 
ultimately will pay in curtailed supply and higher prices. Today the oil 
industry estimates our known petroleum reserve at about 17 billion barrels--
which we are using up far more rapidly than foreign nations are exhausting 
theirs. With no further discoveries at our present rate of consumption, 
3,600,000 barrels a day, simple arithmetic reveals that our proven oil supply 
will last us only about 13 years!

SECOND VOICE. Fortunately, today, other States have joined Oklahoma in passing 
oil conservation laws--Arkansas, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New 
Mexico, and Texas. Texas, too, through its gas conservation law of 1935 has 
reduced the gas waste in the Panhandle 90 percent; and Louisiana, through a 
similar law passed in 1936 has done much to eliminate waste in Rodessa.

VOICE. But there is still much to be done. For example, the fifth largest oil-
producing State, Illinois, has not yet joined other States in passing oil-
conservation legislation. Moreover, closer coordination of Federal and State 
responsibilities is needed. America, your oil industry has grown tremendously 
since Colonel Drake and his 69 and 1/2 foot well. Today there are 370,000 
wells, some going down more than 2 miles, producing a billion and a quarter 
barrels of oil a year, now supplying 30,000,000 automobiles. Without oil, our 
Nation, as we know it, could not exist! All the more reason, then, that we 
should lend an attentive ear to the words of the Secretary of the Interior, 
Harold L. Ickes, who said:

ICKES. The Congress and executive branch should not await the day of practical 
exhaustion before arriving at a national policy of oil conservation. If we are 
to conserve our oil supply so that it will meet to the fullest possible degree 
the needs of the Nation, we must do it while there is oil to conserve! I 
suggest, therefore, that the Congress and the executive branch might well 
address themselves to the question as to how the Federal Government might aid 
the oil-producing States to husband the oil resources of America.

VOICE. Take heed, America. Oil is absolutely essential to your happiness and 
well-being! It is your Nation's heart blood. If you and your country are to 
prosper, oil must be conserved! Look to the future, America!

(Music: Up and out.)

VOICE. Here is a special announcement; listen carefully.

SECOND VOICE. Every listener to this program may have a free publication 
packed full of interesting information about our country's natural wealth. It 
is a publication which every man, woman, and child in America should have. 
Send for your free copy now! Address, What Price America, Washington, D. C., 
and a free publication will be sent to you at once. Let me repeat, if you want 
this important booklet, just send your name and address--a post card will do--
to What Price America, Washington, D. C.

VOICE. Next week at this same time, the Department of the Interior in 
cooperation with the Columbia network, presents the twenty-fifth program of 
the series of What Price America. Listen next week to What Price America.

(Music: Up and out.)

ANNOUNCER. The script for this program was written by Lou Hazam. (Pronounced 

(Research--Hugh Russel Fraser.)

(Music--Leon Goldman.)

(Directed for Columbia by William N. Robson.)