A Reagan administration team studying the implications of exporting Alaskan crude oil decided yesterday to seek new figures on the revenue implications for the federal government before sending its final report to the Cabinet Council on Natural Resources and Environment, according to participants in the meeting.
The members are "still haggling" over estimates of how much the government would take in through the windfall tax on oil profits and how much of that would be offset by maritime industry losses, one said.
The latest version of the interagency fact-finding group's draft report appears to be heavily weighted in favor of a controversial proposal to lift the ban on exports of Alaskan crude, but maritime industry sources said they now felt reassured the industry's strong opposition to the proposal would be reflected in the final report.
The working group's chairman, Danny Boggs of the White House's Office of Policy Development, said the group will not make any formal policy recommendation. That will be up to the Cabinet Council, chaired by Interior Secretary James Watt, to which the Boggs group will report, probably next week.
Anticipating a Cabinet Council recommendation that exports be authorized, six senior members of Congress made public a letter to Watt warning that "allowing such exports will have serious adverse consequences for the United States merchant marine and an undesirable impact on our national security, international relations and possibly the federal budget."
The letter, signed by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee chairman Walter B. Jones (D-N.C.) and ranking subcommittee members, said 3,200 maritime jobs would be lost if the oil were exported because it could be carried in foreign-flag ships and "the federal government could be subjected to a potential liability of over $400 million in loan guarantees" on U.S. tankers that would no longer have any cargoes.
Approval of both houses of Congress is required before any Alaskan crude can be exported. Congress has voted twice to prohibit such exports, and it is not clear whether the administration would want to risk a difficult political battle over a a proposal that is strongly opposed even by some cabinet departments.
A Sept. 1 draft of the Boggs group report says that exporting approximately 500,000 barrels of oil a day to Japan would increase Federal tax revenues by up to $450 million a year, "reassure our oil-importing friends" in Asia, and remove "unwarranted" barriers to free trade without seriously damaging U.S. security interests.