In the administration's grimmest assessment yet of the energy crisis, Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal warned yesterday that the oil cartel's limitations on production could throw the rest of the world into a serious recession.
Addressing a top ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, Blumenthal said the industrial nations' commitment to cut consumption by 2 million barrels, or 5 percent, a day will have to be increased next year.
He called for enormous expenditures by each nation to finance new forms of energy and argued that "we must alter our budget priorities to help in these adjustments."
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget vetoed last week a proposal by Blumenthal and the Department of Energy for a $10 billion international energy development agency that would have involved a $400 million budget expenditure for the U.S.
The OECD, representing 24 major industrial nations, has been holding its annual two-day meeting. This time, energy dominated the agenda, with many nations publicly and privately expressing their belief that the U.S. must do a better job on energy conservation.
French Minister of Economy Rene Monory told the meeting yesterday that the Western countries were entitled to expect a contribution by the oil cartel if consuming nations made an effort to conserve energy.
A statement at the end of the OECD meeting reaffirmed the industrial nations' commitment to cut their consumption by 5 percent this year, but made no mention of next year.
Without effective action to restore balance in oil markets, the OECD statement said, "The rise in oil prices could set off a new inflation-generated recession." Without "responsible action by producers and consumers alike," the statement added, "the energy situation will damage the world economy."
Blumenthal was more explicit. Because of "the nasty storm clouds (that) have appeared" in recent weeks, the consuming nations "cannot be confident that the increase in the quantity of oil necessary to sustain continued economic growth will be available . . .
"There is considerable danger that we will enter 1980 facing oil import bills that will represent a severe challenge to our ability to stabilize our economies and maintain respectable rates of growth."
The U.S. Treasury head said conservation, while necessary, "will only buy a little time." The necessary step, he concluded, is "a drastic energy effort" directed to increasing production, with "massive sums to be diverted from consumption and other uses for this purpose."
Blumenthal indicated in a speech Wednesday to an international banking group in London that the Carter administration would take a series of energy proposals to the Tokyo summit, including one that would try to curb enormous price increases in the spot market.
But there are indications that the U.S. may meet some resistance in Tokyo. Coincidentally, representatives of the seven summit nations - the so-called "summit preparers" - hold their final meeting in Paris Today and Saturday.