The Carter administration is considering a ban on all new industrial boilers - and tax on old ones - if they burn natural gas and oil to make heat and electricity.
Carter energy aides said the ban and tax are under serious consideration to turn, electric companies and factories away from the two most scarce domestic fuels and toward coal and uranium, the two most abundant. Details of how the ban would be enforced and how much tax would be levied were unavailable.
The White House would not confirm or deny that a ban or a tax on boiler fuels is under consideration.
"We are still in the formative stages of a new energy policy," a spokesman said last night. "There are a lot of things under consideration."
To soften the tax and ban if they come, the administration would grant exceptions in the case of oil-burning boilers to electric companies and factories that agree to build storage tanks to maintain at least a 90-day supply of oil at the plant sites.
The exception is designed to encourage private industry to take on at least part of the financial burden of creating a strategic oil reserves to counter any interruption in the flow of imports.
COngress has authorized a federal oil reserves would buy up the equivalent of a six-month supply and store it in pumped-out salt domes and abandoned underground mines for use in a national emergency like another oil embargo.
No exceptions would be allowed where boilers burn natural gas to make heat and electricity. The administration deems natural gas to scarce to use for factory heat and power.
The ban and tax are being considered because so much oil and natural gas are being consumed by factories to generate heat and by electric companies to make electricity.
In 1975, electric companies burned 507 million barrels of oil to generate power. That was about one fourth of all the oil consumed in the United States that year. In the same year, an estimated 3.2 trillion cubic feet of gas was burned to make electricity - one seventh of total gas consumption.
About 500 million barrels of oil was also burned in 1975 to make hear for factories. In some cases it supplied heat to the factory and its workers. The rest was used in the manufacture of products like chemicals and glass.
About 5 trillion cubic feet of gas was burned in 1975 for factory heat, almost one fourth of total consumption.