• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: Hot Oil

4 minute read
TIME

Up to last week no state law to limit oil production had ever been wholly effective because unscrupulous producers, large and small, persisted in bootlegging more than their legal quotas outside the state. This “hot oil,” it was estimated, represented about one-fifth of the entire daily production of petroleum—enough to nullify any agreement between honest men to hold down output, stabilize prices. In violation of local proration regulations it was smuggled by secret pipe lines, shipped across state lines in regular tank cars. It was mixed with legitimately produced oil at refineries. Real enforcement of state quota laws required nothing less than guardsmen with fixed bayonets as Oklahoma and Texas discovered. Last week President Roosevelt stepped firmly into the “hot oil” situation. Under the Industrial Recovery Act he issued an executive order making it a Federal offense to ship from state to state oil produced or withdrawn from storage in violation of any state law. It was reported that 600 tank cars, awash with “hot oil,” had rattled out of the great flush fields of East Texas the night prior to beat the President’s order. Placed in charge of the “hot oil” order was Secretary of the Interior Ickes who had done much to get the petroleum industry on record against this brand of ‘legging. He promptly issued drastic enforcement regulations which carried fines and imprisonment for all violators. Each producer is required to submit to Washington a monthly report of how much oil he takes from his wells, how much he sells, where the balance is—with a sworn statement that none of his transactions has violated the law. Refiners must do likewise. Railroad and pipeline companies likewise must have substantial proof under oath that the oil they are asked to transport is legally produced, and must report monthly. ¶ Last week President Roosevelt had a slight cold. He had succeeded in losing two of the seven excess pounds he picked up on his vacation. ¶ Back from the London Conference, Assistant Secretary of State Moley, No. I Brain Truster, made a bee line to the White House to report to his chief. At the door newshawks upset him with questions about his expense account. London dispatches told how the U. S. Embassy had received bills totaling some $3,000 for Mr. Moley and Herbert Bayard Swope, his traveling companion. One was for $1,300 for transatlantic telephone calls. Another was for $500 for an airplane chartered to fly from Ireland to London but not used. Since Professor Moley and Companion Swope were not officially members of the U. S. Conference delegation, Secretary of State Hull declined to pay their bills from the delegation’sslim purse but referred them to the State Department. At the White House door Brain Truster Moley could recall offhand only one $480 telephone conversation with Washington, and, as for a plane, why, he had not expected it to be so expensive. “Any items on the account not properly chargeable to the Government,” declared he, “I will pay myself.” ¶ Bunching together his Cabinet and key men in all fields, President Roosevelt created a Council of Recovery to iron out administrative kinks in his national program. The Council meets Tuesday afternoons in place of the Cabinet. Appointed as Council Secretary was Frank C. Walker, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.

¶ President Roosevelt’s week-end cruise took him down the Potomac on the Sequoia, into Chesapeake Bay and to Crisfield, Md. There he debarked and spent six hours sightseeing on the Eastern Shore. On the return trip he conferred with Secretary Ickes and General Johnson who had flown from Washington to board the Sequoia.

¶ Plans were made last week to move most of the White House office staff to Poughkeepsie, N. Y. for August when President Roosevelt takes the rest of his vacation at nearby Hyde Park. Around his estate the President will drive not a General Motors’ Pontiac roadster, as reported, but a Chrysler-built De Soto. A “special job,” this roadster was so contrived that it may be entirely operated by hand. Before his election Mr. Roosevelt had a Ford roadster equipped with hand gadgets for brake and clutch.

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