Congressional supporters of the Council on Environmental Quality asked President Carter yesterday to reject recommendations that the CEQ be dismantled or tranferred from the executive office of the President to some other government agency.
In a telegram to the Presedent, Reps. Richard Ottinger (D-N.Y.), John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.) and Robert W. Edgar (D-Pa.) said they "are totally opposed to such action."
"We urge you to leave the CEQ whole, within your office," the telegram said. "CEQ's independence and direct access to the President is essentail."
Recommendations that CEQ be abolished or that most of its functions be transferred to the Interior Department or the Environmental Protection Agency are part of a proposed reorganization of the executive office of the President. Carter has had the recommendations from the Office of Management and Budget's government reorganization plan to Congress by July 15.
The President met yesterday with most of his senior White House aides, OMB Director Bert Lance and the reorganization staff to discuss the proposals.
White House officials said no decisions were made at the meeting and none is expected until next week. Carter indicated that he will study the recommendations and listen to final appeals from his White House aides and others, some of whom would have their staffs reduced and their responsibilities altered under the proposals.
The OMB reorganization staff has recommended that the authorized size of the White House staff be cut from 485 to 340, thus fulfilling the President's pledge to reduce his staff by 30 per cent. The staff now numbers about 580, but some 100 employees are classified as temporary.
In a draft of a memo that went to Carter with the proposals, the reorganization staff made clear that the President's campaign promise of a 30 per cent cut played a role in the final recommendations.
Nothing that the White House staff reflects any President's work habits and style, the memo said the staff "can have no optimal shape and size" and that Carter's staff is serving him well and is not in need of major restructuring.
"Yet we are aware of the President's concern about the size of the White House staff and his commitment to reduce the staff substantially," the memo said.
It added that the cut could be accomplished, that it would result in "some loss of capacity in selected areas," but would provide "greater flexibility, better control and eliminate some non-directed, self-generated work" that has been taking place in the Carter White House.
The memo also suggested some changes in the functions of senior White House aides. For example, it called for Hamilton Jordan, Carter's chief political adviser, to become more involved in policy formation, nothing that "political input to the policy process has too often been sought too late, if at all."
It also suggested that hthe activities of White House counsel Robert Lipshutz and his staff be restricted to the President's "immediate [legal] needs" such as ethics and conflict-of-interest questions.
The congressional lobbying in behalf of the CEQ is only part of efforts that have been going on for weeks by environmentalists to keep the agency within the executive office of the President.
CEQ is one of several agencies that would be eliminated or transferred to other government departments in the reorganization recommendations. Others include the Economic Policy Group, the Energy Resources Council, the Federal Property Council and the Office of Telecommunication Policy.
However, an OMB spokesman said that the Foreign Intelligence Advisors Board, which The Washington Post reported yesterday also would be eliminated in the reorganization, was abolished several months ago by executive order.