President Carter indicated yesterday he is inclined to give state and local officials a major voice in deciding such key energy issues as the proper use of nuclear power, increased use of solar energy, and possible emergency allocations of scarce fuels.
The President did not, however, give any details of how he plans to make sure their views are taken into account.
Carter made the remark after 44 governors quizzed him for three hours about his national energy policy in a closed meeting in the Old Executive Office Building. While the governors came away with a variety of feelings about the exchange, they thought enough of the process to announce plans for another meeting to discuss ways of increasing energy production.
The question-and-answer session with the President was one of three closed working meetings among the governors, top administration energy officials and some Cabinet members Friday night and yesterday, which gave the governors a chance to voice their concern about different parts of Carter's energy package.
Interviews with a number of the governors indicated some saw the exchange as a first step toward a greater voice in shaping the final form of the package, as well as a greater voice in implementing it.
Others complained it was not a serious attempt to exchange ideas. "This was not a conference of energy," said Gov. David Boren of Oklahoma. "It was misnamed and flying under false colors. It was a conference on implementing President Carter's conservation plans."
Kentucky Gov. Julian Carroll, conference chairman, said there seemed to be a general criticism that the administration had "concentrated more on conversation than we have high-lighted additional production. I, for one, do not agree with that critism . . . but yet the critism was there, and really a lot of the governors felt we ought to concentrate on production rather than concentrate on conversation."
Carroll said there were four specific results from the two days of meetings, the first where governors and top administration officials limited their discussion to a single topic:
A group of governors will be named to work with White House energy adviser James R. Schlesinger on the need to provide incentives for conservation "in order to reward a state for sacrifice."
Another group will work with the administration to improve emergency prepardness "so that we'll be able to be a little more responsive in the coming winter . . ."
A third group will work with Schlesinger on "the mechanism and structure" of the new Department of Energy that Schlesinger is expected to head once Congress approves it.
Plans will be made for another meeting "in which we would designate a full day for discussion of development of alternate energy sources and increased production in the areas of coal . . . offshore leasing and development of solar energy, nuclear power development, oil and gas explorations . . ."
Carroll said the governors, who were invited by the White House to come to Washington only about two weeks ago, did not seek any specific commitments from the administration. "We sought rather to express ourselves and then ask the administrations to give us detailed explantions of policies they've already enunciated in the Congress and their reasons for those policies."
Administration officials denied that the governors were invited to counter problems that Carter's energy proposals are having in Congress.
Carter called the meetings "very important and helpful." The governors were "very frank and very severe in their critiscm of aspects of the program with which they do disagree," he said.
The meeting was intended in large part to led the governors express themselves on issues of special concern to their individual states and they did that.
California Gov. Edmund, (Jerry) Brown Jr. said Carter should pay more attention to incentives in developing alternative sources such as solar energy.
Gov. James Edwards of South Carolina urged a free market approach to higher production through removal of energy price controls.
Michigan Gov. William Milliken called the conference "a damned good one," and said Schlesinger "was very reassuring that the energy supplies we can save in Michigan would stay in the state."
Gov. Dixy Lee Ray of Washington, a former chairman of the now defunct Atomic Energy Commission, talked of the need for more nuclear energy.
Iowa Gov. Robert Ray said he was happy tha Carter "recognizes that agriculture has to to have some type of priority." In addition, he said, "you have to be impressed with the fact that the President spent all morning with us."
Florida Gov. Reubin Askew noted there were "substantial differences of opinion among the governors themselves" on many issues. He called the meetings "a good beginning."
During a break between the second and third sessions. Carter said that, "If we don't get 100 per cent of our policy this year, we'll be back next year. I don't think there is any doubt that the nation faces devastating consequences in the absence of a comprehensive and fair and understandable energy policy."