Mandatory weekend closings of gasoline stations are undersirable because they would damage Virginia's $2 billion-a-year travel industry, Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton told a U.S. Senate energy subcommittee yesterday.
Speaking on behalf of the National Governor's Association, Dalton said states would be left free to develop alternatives to weekend closings that would save an equivalent amount of gasoline.
Dalton energy aide George Jones said after the testimony that the governor will announce in Richmond today mandatory energy-saving measures aimed at state government operations.
Jones said the state can save millions of dollars annually by cutting travel by state employes, reducing heating and cooling requirements in state buildings and increasing the use of car pools and public transport for state employes.
Dalton wants to set a "leadership example" for state citizens by announcing these measures, Jones said.
Yesterday's testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was aimed at the administration's proposed standby mandatory conservation measures, which Congress must decide to approve or disapprove by May 10.
Besides weekend station closings, the proposed measures include mandatory theremostat settings of 80 in summer and 65 in winter, a ban on decorative lighting and gasoline rationing by coupon.
If approved by Congress, the measures could be put into effect by the President at his discretion, although some additional congressional action would be required for rationing -- the most extreme measure.
Dalton said yesterday the administration's proposed rationing plan "takes no account of the vast differences in driving patterns among the states... It would give the state of Pennsylvania... 115 percent of its actual annual gasoline usage."
At the same time, he said, Texas would get less than its historic annual consumption even though it has fewer cars and greater distances to travel than Pennsylvania.
Dalton said the Virginia State Energy Office has prepared stringent measures "in case they become necessary," including plans for an odd-even gasoline purchase plan and a program of reduced energy consumption by retail merchants.
Dalton could implement such plans under his emergency powers and without further legislative approval or approval by federal authorities, according to Jones.
Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia have agreed to consult with one another and attempt to coordinate energy-saving measures, officials said yesterday.
While the agreement mentions no specific programs, it is designed, for example, to avoid a situation where curtailed commercial hours in one jurisdiction would cause a rush of consumers to another jurisdiction, officials said.
The agreement has been signed by Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes, and will be signed soon by Dalton and District Mayor Marion Barry, officials said.
Dalton said inhis testimony yesterday that the federal government should apply "a cost-benefit analysis to some of its environmental restraints to see whether they are really worth their cost in terms of contributing to the energy shortage."
Because there is a federal ban on the use of a certain additive in the manufacture of unleaded gasoline, according to Dalton, the United States needs 200,000 more barrels of oil a day than it would without the ban.