21. AMERICAIS NEW TEAPOT DOME ENERGY SCANDAL

Teapot Dome, the site of a scandal that rocked Republican President Harding's administration, is now a small part of a growing national energy scandal, involving billions of dollars, which has yet to be put together by the news media.

* Teapot Dome (closed in 1927 and reopened a few years ago) -- part of a national theft of oil field equipment which could cost us from $200 million to $1 billion.

* Nine major U.S. oil and gas companies -- charged with underpaying the federal government as much as $400 million a year for petroleum produced on government property.

* 35 of our largest oil companies -- charged with making $14 billion in overcharges during eight years of price violations when domestic crude oil and refined products were under price controls. Reagan's proposed cut of DOE's oil enforcement staff is cited as a "thinly disguised ploy to drop prosecution of more than 700 cases of illegal pricing practices" involving the alleged overcharges.

* Oil deregulation (sold to the public as a means of locating new energy resources) -- corrupted by the oil giants. No less a source than Malcolm S. Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, charged that the big oil companies "are spending billions to take over major mineral companies instead of using their huge cash piles to develop additional energy sources."

Meanwhile, an investigation by a reporter from Long Island's Newsday reveals a clear pattern of government deceit concerning our energy policy running through the Carter administration and continuing under Reagan, Just one example is a suppressed 1979 investigation which accused the administration of attempts to "manipulate public opinion, attitudes and behavior with resulting pressure for higher (petroleum) prices due to government induced panic buying."

The failure of the media to expose how big oil has defrauded Americans of billions of dollars and how our government has systematically deceived us on our energy policy qualifies this story for nomination as a "best censored" story of 1981.

SOURCES:

Christian Science Monitor, 12/7/81, "New Teapot Dome Scandal: Tip of Growing U.S. Oil-Theft Problem" by David Salisbury; Wall Street Journal, 10/20/81, "Oil, Gas Industry Underpaying up to $400 Million a Year in Royalties" by Steve Mufson; Business Week, 4/20/81, New York Times (AP), 12/22/81, "Energy Audits Called Faulty; This World, 10/18/81, "Leaving the Public in the Dark" by Brian Donovan; S.F. Chronicle, 4/18/81, "The Oil Companies Do Strike Out" by Milt Moskowitz.