A coalition of prominent consumer and labor leaders yesterday called on President Carter to back creation of a government-owned energy company to explore, produce and distribute energy found on federal lands.
The proposal cites pending legislative proposals calling for establishment of the "Energy Co. of America," an entity like the Tennessee Valley Authority that would put the government in the energy development business.
In a letter to Carter, the coalition asks him to "take the lead in" the congressional fight for the proposed corporation, which the letter writers said "would provide . . . a yardstick with which to measure the excesses of private corporate performance."
"It would stimulate competition from the wellhead to the distributor by insuring that independent refineries and retail distributors be given the right to an adequate supply of oil and gas," the letter claims. "It would produce accurate data regarding reserves and costs of production."
The national energy company concept is almost a decade old, and its proponents long have claimed that it would be a viable method by which the government could gauge the performance of the energy industry, and prevent manipulation of the market.
Opponents claim that the government never has been known to be an effective manager of anything, and that there is no reason to believe it would be any more effective than the private sector at energy exploration and development.
The energy corporation also has been seen as a supplier of last resort in the event of shortages or import reductions.
"Clearly, a new buffer to protest millions of hard-pressed Americans is needed to counteract the controls of overseas and domestic cartel arrangements," the letter states. "Those who are sensitive to the national security risks of heavy reliance on cartels and monopolies will support such a corporation as a national security measure."
The letter cites two bills, S.580, introduced by Sen. Adlai Stevenson (D-Ill.) and H.R.3885, introduced by Rep. Joseph Minish (D-N.J.), as worthy of presidental support. A third bill on the same subject has been introduced by Rep. Eugene Atkinson (D-Penn.)
Signing the letter to President Carter were Ralph Nader; Kathleen O'Reilly, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America; Jerry Wurf, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes; J. C. Turner, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers; William Winpisinger, president of the International Association of Machinists; William Wynn, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers; George Hardy, president, Service Employees International Union; and William Hutton, president of the National Council of Senior Citizens.