Because of a typographical error, President Carter's position in a campaign letter on natural gas decontrol was stated incorrectly in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post. In the letter Carter supported the gas industry's position in favor of outright, permanently decontrolled prices.
A letter President Carter signed last fall supporting the natural gas industry's position in favor of outright, permanently controlled prices was drafted by people close to the industry, one of them who helped put it together says.
Duke Ligon, a Washington attorney who represents the oil and gas industry, among other clients, said the letter was written to help Carter win needed votes in oil producing states, as well as get him to take a stronger stand in favor of oil decontrol.
Ligon said he sent notes that Gov. David Boren of Oklahoma, reflected the industry's position to on to Carter campaign headquarters who had the letter written and sent in Georgia. The letter's authors were "surprised" when Carter signed it virtually without change, ligon said.
"We were surprised that he [Carter] came out the strongly," he said.
The letter letter, he said, was designed to be "a starting point," toward a hoped-for compromise between the industry's position favoring immediate decontrol, and Carter's position up to that time, which favored decontrol on a five-year trial basis with complete decontrol only on so-called "new" gas.
Ligon and Rep. Robert Krueger. (D-Tex.) said during a National Public Radio broadcast Friday that without the letter. Carter would have failed to carry Texas, and might have lost the election.
The key portion of the letter reads, "I will work with the Congress, as the Ford administration has been unable to do, to deregulate natural gas would provide an incentive for new exploration and gas operators attract needed and would help our nation's oil capital."