President Carter met yesterday with 10 industrial leaders to ask their support for a campaign to promote his energy program.
All but one of the industrialists represented are energy users who might benefit from some of the controls in Carter's plan, and all had earlier indicated their support of his program. Special presidential assistant Margaret (Midge) Costanza said before the meeting that they had agreed to form the nucleus of a "business committee to support the President's energy program."
"The idea here is that symbolism is as important as substance," said Jim Bishop, an aide to White House adviser James Schlesinger.
It would help Carter administration's position, he said, if board chairmen were to call for a boost in the production of four-cylinder cars, for example, or for insulating industrial roofs.
Those who met in the White House for an hour and a half, including 23 minutes with Carter, included the board chairmen of Easter Airlines, Atlantic-Richfield, United Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, American Telephone and Telegraph, Continental Trailways, Aluminum Company of America and Aetna Life and Casualty, and the President of Beech Aircraft and Dell Publishing.
"The President made a plea for their help," Bishop said. "They'll probably come back in a couple of weeks with a plan."
Other sources indicated that the group would contact other business and industrial leaders, and perharps take out advertisement's supporting Carter's plan, and talking about steps they have been taken to cooperate.
"What they did complain about nobody knows what they have already done," Costanza said. She said John Debutts chairman of AT&T, told the group his company has already begun using vans for to form commuter pools, and discourages employees from driving their own cars to work,
["Some corporations have already saved 30 per cent, 40 per cent (in energy], "Bishop said, "but the news doesn't travel very well, so nobody knows that up in Minnesota, Honey-well is building a completely solarized headquarters."
The meeting was pulled together jointly by Costanza, Schlesinger and the office of Carter's top political adviser, Hamilton Jordan.
Frank E. Hendrick, president of Beech Aircraft, said before the meeting that he thought "the President wanted to form a task force to encourage . . .industry to conserve energy." He said Beech had "a very aggressive energy conservation plan."