The Energy War

  • A true political soap opera, “The Energy War,” a three-part PBS special, follows the fierce legislative battle in Congress to pass President Jimmy Carter’s natural gas bill.  Filmed over  two-years, the struggle included a historic filibuster by amendment which ended when Vice President Mondale was brought to Capitol Hill to break the tie vote. This rare behind-the-scene view of the political process features combatants on all sides of the energy policy issue—the Carter administration, Congressmen, aides and lobbyists—including President Jimmy Carter, Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger, Congressmen Gary Hart, John Chafee, Ted Kennedy, Pete Domenici, James Abourekz, Albert Gore, Howard Metzenbaum, Russell Long, Bennett Johnson as well as reporter Cokie Roberts, environmentalist Ralph Nader among others.


    Part I: Mark Up (90 min) covers the frantic lobbying through the first test vote on the Senate floor.

    Part II: Filibuster (90 min) spans the historic eight-day filibuster and subsequent passage by the Senate of a bill diametrically opposed to the President’s.

    Part III: Final Vote (120 min) depicts the Herculean effort by the President, Secretary Schlesinger, and congressional allies, to wrest a natural gas compromise and steer it through a formidable coalition of Left and Right, and finally into law.


    Cited in 1980 by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as “one of the best political films ever made”.

  • By D A Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, and Pat Powell 1978, 300 min., color