U.S. President Ronald Reagan announces his plan to lift price controls on oil and begins disassembling the renewable-energy research programs begun under Carter.
The Exxon Valdez oil tanker runs aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Americans' support for offshore drilling plummets and remains low well into the 1990s.
After accusing Kuwait of stealing Iraqi oil with slant-drilling techniques, Saddam Hussein seizes Kuwaiti oil fields. U.S. President George H.W. Bush leads a coalition to oust him.
For the first time since the 1910s, the United States imports more oil than it produces. Deputy Energy Secretary Bill White describes the situation as "the biggest trade problem we have."
Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force releases its National Energy Policy. "Our increased dependence on foreign oil profoundly illustrates our nation's failure to establish an effective energy policy," the report states, recommending a renewed commitment to domestic oil, coal, natural gas, hydropower, and nuclear power.
Congress passes the Energy Policy Act, including quotas and millions of dollars in subsidies in hopes of nearly doubling U.S. ethanol production by 2012.
Congress passes the Energy Independence and Security Act, which .imposes tougher fuel-efficiency standards on vehicles and orders a whopping 766 percent increase from 2007's targeted biofuel production by 2022. By 2008, ethanol has become a $32 billion business in the United States.
Oil prices hit a record $148 a barrel.
September: At the Republican National Convention, Michael Steele calls on Americans to "reduce our dependency on foreign sources of oil and promote oil and gas production at home. In other words: Drill, baby, drill!"
China's oil imports surpass domestic production for the first time.
Hashing out its new five-year plan, the Chinese government embraces ambitious new targets for reducing China's reliance on imported oil.
A weak economy and more efficient vehicles cause oil imports to fall below half of U.S. consumption for the first time in 13 years.
The International Energy Agency predicts that the European Union will surpass the United States as an energy importer by 2015.
U.S. shale gas production reaches 5 trillion cubic feet, five times its 1990 level, reigniting hopes for homegrown energy.
Thanks to John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Graetz of Columbia University.