President Carter will meet with Gov.Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. today to discuss the gasoline shortage in California, presumably to work out details of a plan to ease that state's continuing long gas-station lines.
White House press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday Brown had requested the session on Monday as the government neared completion of a report on the California situation that Carter had promised during his Los Angeles trip May 5.
It was not immediately clear what steps the president might propose to deal with the California gasoline problem. Completion and publication of the White House recommendations were held up yesterday pending Brown's visit today.
However, White House domestic adviser Stuart E.Eizenstat raised the possibility that Carter might ask the oil companies to switch to refining more gasoline, rather than heating oil, as the Energy Department had been urging.
Yesterday, the Energy Department announced the administration would not mind a month or so delay in reaching its target for stockpiling home heating oil as long as refiners can make sure the target will be met.
Officials said other options also include easing federal gasoline regulations to allow greater use of lead additives, and rejuggling current allocations of gasoline to shift more to fuelshort areas, such as California.
The gasoline shortage in California has been blamed on a variety of factors, from faster-than-expected growth in demand to overly conservative cutbacks by the oil companies and panic-buying by consumers.
Announcement of today's meeting with Brown came as the Energy Department confirmed it is considering raising the markup that service-station operators may take - a move that probably will result in higher prices at the pump.
The move is designed to provide higher earnings for dealers, whose margins have been frozen since 1974. The White House previously had denied the story, which was published in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Post.
The developments came as, separately, Carter made a personal appeal to a group of busines leaders - including several energy-industry executives - to back his decontrol plan and "windfall profits" tax simply for the national good.
Obviously frustrated over public reaction to the energy situtation, Carter lamented that "we have been addressing this issue in an almost fruitless way over the past two years," and there still is "no indication" Americans believe it is a problem.
In a turnabout from previous speeches, Carter lambasted consumers for failing to reduce their energy consumption, while praising "the corporate world" for what he called "a substantial improvement."
He also assailed Monday's House vote which defeated his gasoline-rationing plan as "a remarkable demonstration of political timidity." We've not got adequate political support in Congress", Carter said.
In contrast to some of the president's earlier speeches, Carter yesterday sounded worn and almost plaintive.
Carter told the executives yesterday: "Our country is so strong and so able and so secure that it's almost heartbreaking to see some issue like this which festers like a cancer carry on from one month to another. . ."
The president also was less harsh in his treatment of the oil industry. At one point he lamented that "even the most patriotic (of the American) people are still looking for a scapegoat. That's obviously a false premise.
At another he asserted: "I have no animosity against old companies . . . I (just) did not want the increase in prices to enrich" them. Previously, Carter had attacked the oil industry vigorously.
The Energy Department's decision to interrupt the current buildup of heating-oil stocks reversed its previous policy, and effectively returned the process to the timetable that the oil companies would have followed on their own.
The move had been urged by several of the leading refiners, including the Shell Oil Company, as a way to help ease the shortage. The early buildup of heating-oil stocks had been ordered by the Energy Department.