President-elect Ronald Reagan's transition team at the Department of Energy has told Reagan that he should not "at this time" carry out his campaign promise to abolish the department.
Michel Halbouty, the Texas geologist and oil millionaire who heeds the energy transition team, said yesterday his group has issued a report concluding that the department should continue operations "for some time." Although Halbouty would not specify which department functions should be continued, he said it would be "really impossible" to eliminate the agency.
"Some of these things, you just can't wipe out," Halbouty said.
Throughout his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Reagan criticized President Carter for creating the Cabinet department and pledged to eliminate it. "Eliminating the DOE and its [petroleum] allocation rules would be an important first step toward solving the energy cirsis," Reagan said last January in a typical comment on the subject.
But last fall, Reagan began to retreat somewhat from that position. Then, in a press conference the day after his election, he said the department could not be abolished immediately because it has "legitimate functions."
According to a trade publication, Capital Energy Letter, the transition team report recommends, among other things, that the department increase its spending on development of nuclear energy and that it remain the agency chiefly responsible for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The report also recommends reductions in energy conservation programs and the department's information-gathering operations.