The Carter administration should match its effort to reduce the use of foreign oil with a companion policy limiting imports of liquefied natural gas, according to congressional analysts.
In a report the administration sought to squelch the General Accounting Office said Monday that all limits on LNG imports were wiped out when President Carter issued his new energy policy in April.
The GAO said the new LNG policy adopted by Carter, replacing strict import levels laid down 14 months earlier by President Ford, is too vague and amounts to little more than a general policy statement.
The agency's report included a copy of a letter from the former Federal Energy Administration saying the new LNG analysis was "premature" and should not be made public. The GAO, the watchdog arm of Congress, disagreed.
U.S. natural gas companies are turning increasingly to LNG from such places as Algeria and Indonesia to supplement dwindling domestic gas supplies.
"The new liquefied natural gas import policy provides no clear indication of what role imports are to play in meeting future gas needs," the report said.
"The President's proposed comprehensive national energy program has provided the framework for which natural gas will be used in the future. With this basis, specific goals and objectives should be established for domestic and supplemental gas sources.
"The national energy plan objective, with respect to foreign oil, is to reduce U.S. dependency and vulnerability to interruptions in supply. The objective of reducing dependency should also apply to natural gas imports."
Carter's energy plan does not adequately consider possibilities for curbing the growing trend toward using foreign gas to supplement U.S. supplies, the report said. It said the plan also pays inadequate attention to the districution of LNG when domestic gas supplies have been curtailed.
The GAO said the Energy Department should revise the policy to define clearly the role imported LNG is to play, determine how much use of foreign LNG is acceptable and determine whether low priority users to LNG must share fuel with high-priority users of domestic gas who suffer curtailments.
Meanwhile in New Orleans, gas industry officials were told yesterday that if left to its own devices, the gas industry would be able to satisfy the nation's energy needs well beyond the predictions of government doom-sayers.
The idea that our energy problems will be solved through some kind of crisis managements is - I think - unfortunate." Edward Erickson, professor of business economics at North Carolina State University, said in an interview following his keynote address at the annual meeting of the Natural Gas Supply Committee.
Erickson, a paid consultant for the committee, said adequate price incentives will ensure supply increases, but he added that with greater demand comes greater demand comes greater industry responsibility to meet those demands.
In explaining his views, Erickson said that inevitably higher energy prices will force inevitable changes in American lifestyles - such as changes in transportation.
He said, dollar-a-gallon gasoline will come more quickly if price controls are continued than if the controls are removed.He said price controls cause supply shortages, which in turn require foreign imports, which in turn raise world energy prices.