Following are excepts from President Carter's remarks during his news contcrence yesterday on his proposed energy progrem and other domestic issues:
The President: Good morning everybody.
Back in April when a national energy policy was presented to the Congress and to the people, I said that because of the importance of it that this was a moral equivalent of war. I haven't hanged my mind. In fact, the seriousness of the energy crisis is even more acute than it was then.
But as is the case in time of war, there is potential war profiteering in the impending energy crisis. This could develop with the passing months as the biggest ripoff in history.
The issues involved here ar extremely important. We live in a nation and we believe in the free enterprise system, where market forces determine prices. But the oil and gas industry is not part of that system because prices are not free. They are heavily influenced by decisions made outside our country, by the OPEC nations, and they are heavily influenced by some control over the rate of production by American companies. And there is an inevitable increasing shortage of oil and gas which we all recognize. I believe without dispute.
Prices have gone up drastically in the last few years. They are going to go up some more. That also is inevitable. But the question is who will profit from these prices and to what degree?
The package that was presented to the Congress in April is fair. It is well balanced. It insures that the American people are not robbed. If also insures that the oil companies get enough incentive to insure adequate exploration and production. But the oil companies apparently want it all.
We are talking about cnornicus amounts of money. Never before in our history has this much money been involved in a decision controlled by government policy and by legislation.
The struggle is intense. It is going to go on for a long time but the basic question is going to be resolved within the next few weeks in the Congress.The oil companies deserve incentive and our proposals have been both fair and they have been adequately generous.
In 1973, for instance, just before the OPEC price rise and the oil embargo, the oil and gas industries had an income of $18 billion. Under our proposal by 1985 their annual income would be about $100 billion, an enormous increase. But the oil companies and gas companies are now demanding and making some progress. It is $150 billion. The difference will not encourage increased production of oil. But that difference will come out of the pockets of the American consumers and go into the pockets of the oil companies themselves.
Our proposal, if adopted, would give the oil companies, the producers themselves, the highest prices for oil in all the world. But still they want more.
If we deregulate natural gas prices, then the price will go to 15 times more than natural gas prices were before the oil embargo. These billions and billions of dollars are at stake: whether that money should be given partially to the oil companies to encourage production and partically to the American people in a fair way or whether it should all be grabbed by the oil companies at the expense of the American consumer.
There is one point I want to make very briefly. The international circumstances of the energy crisis are now being recognized as being very, very serious. Dr Schlesinger just returned from a meeting with the nations who comprise the International Energy Agency. Almost all the developed nations in the world, the industrialized nations in the world, we now consume about 23 million barrels of oil a day. The prospect is that we might go to 36 million by 1985, a demand that simply cannot be met.
So all the countries, including us, have resolved to cut down our consumption, not below what it is now but below the anticipated amount to about 26 million barrels a day.
We believe that production can meet those demands. But the biggest single question in international councils is the will of the American people.Do we have the will as a nation to cut down our enormous oil imports'.
I have confidence in the American people looking to future but past performance has been very disappointing. We were shocked in 1973 when the oil embargo was imposed on us and prices went up. We began to move to cut back on imports. Imports this year will be about $45 billion in oil, $7 per cent more than just four years ago.
We import more oil than all the European countries combined, in spite of the fact that we have enormous production in our own country, which they don't have.
So I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this question of the present and future security of our country, our independence, our economic structure, and also the fairness of a distribution of increased prices, which are inevitable.
It is absolutely important that the legislation he passed. The House has done a good job. They have come forward with legislation that I can accept.
It is up to the Senate. I have confidence in the Senate. And I believe that we will come out of this legislative session with a reasonable policy established for our country.
It is the most important domestic issue that we will face while I am in office. Ane I attribute the highest possible importance to it in my own administration.
I am going to devote most of my time the next few weeks while the Congress is in session trying to make sure we have a fair and adequate energy package.
Ane I hope that the American people will join in with me to encourage the Congress to act accordingly.
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you or your people giving even tentative thought now to the possibility of an economy stimulating tax cut next year, quite apart from tax revision?
The President: Yes, but the tax revision, tax reform, tax cut will all be one package. Tax reform is long overdue. It is, as I have discovered recently, an extremely complicated matter. Sears are left over from previous tax reform efforts, some of which have been successful . . .
Q: Would they be motivated by the state of the economy, Mr. President?
A: Yes, the rapidity with which tax cuts would be instituted would certainly be motivated by the state of the economy, whether or not it does need stimulation early or whether that stimulation would come late. . .
Q: Mr. President, I take it from the strength of your opening statement that if Congress doesn't come up with an energy bill that you like, you would move administratively to do what you could to cut down on oil consumption Secretary Schlesinger already talked about an import tax on foreign oil, and I would like to ask you it that is your view; and also if you would then move to gasoline rationing administratively or some other measure?
A: We are considering all those options. Without knowing the form of the Congressional action, it is hard for us to say now. If the bill in my opinion is not a substantial step forward, then I would not accept it after it is passed. I say that very reluctantly because it would mean that a substantial part of an entire year's work by the Executive and the Legislative branches of Government would have been wasted in the energy field.
I hope and believe that I can sign the bill as introduced to me. In the absence of new legislation, there are many options that will be considered within the present authority of the President and the new Department of Energy. Those that you mentioned are among the options, but we certainly have not decided on which option to choose. . .
Q: Mr. President, if you are serious about the oil industry and the oil lobbies working contrary to what you perceive the public interest to be, you have got a club in the closet and that is divestiture. Why don't you move to break them up?
A: There is a matter of raising too many issues at once. And I am not trying to threaten anybody or use a club. It is obivous that the influence of the oil companies, both in the legislative process, in the Executive Branch of government as well, in the economic structure of our country, is enormous.
Part of that is inevitable and part of it is not to be deplored. It is appropriate. There is a concern to me, for instance, in the uranium industry which is another major and future alternative for large portions of our energy supplies. The oil companies already own about 50 per cent of the uranium deposits. They have substantial holdings in coal. But whether or not divestiture is needed is a matter on which I have not yet decided, and I don't think that now is the time to go into that detailed study or analysis.
Q: Sir, did your visit to the South Bronx and what you saw there, the vacant buildings and the unemployed people, have any impact on you thoughts on what kind of urban policy we should have and what you are going to present to the Congress?
A: Yes, it certainly did have an impact on me and my own conscience. That is not the first time I have been to the South Bronz. I went there as a candidate.
I think it is important in two ways - three ways - one is to let me understand. Personally, the devastation in the South Bronx and similar places like it throughout the country - that is not unique.
I think when I am in Detroit later on this month I will also talk to families who live in this kind of devastated area.
It is important for me to demonstrate accurately my deep concern about this urban deterioration. It is also important to the news media, the radio and newspaper reports, the television pictures, to let the American people know that such places exist in our country.
I think the bill that I signed this week, the Housing Urban Development Act of 1977, will provide us with a base or a framework on which we can make substantial improvements in the urban areas.
The formulae that are being put forward now that the Congress is accepting them, will orient more and more of the rehabilitation money of all kinds to the more blighted areas of our country, both rural and urban.
Q: Mr. President, what was the moral equivalent of war last spring has now become the object of most of the attention of your administration until Congress is out - a last-ditch effort perhaps to salvage what you can in the Senate.
Certainly that is not entirely the fault of the oil lobbies. Shouldn't the administration and people in the Senate like Russell Long take some of the blame?
A: Yes, I take my share of the blame. I don't know how to define it. I think that Senator Russell Long is working long and hard to come up with an acceptable energy package. And my own hope is that before this year is over legislation at least equivalent to what the House passed will be in its final version.
But I am not trying to blame all the problem on the oil companies. The grabbing for the financial rewards is what I deplore in the oil companies. That is a major issue on gas deregulation and also in the price structure for oil.
Part of the blame falls on me, my predecessors, and the American people. We are simply wasting too much energy. For the same standard of living, we use twice as much energy as is used in Japan, West Germany, Sweden, and other countries of that kind. So we have got to cut down on our waste through conservation measures, voluntary action and also a realization of the seriousness of this question.
And I am also concerned as commander-in-chief of our country about the serious security implications of becoming increasingly dependent upon foreign oil supplies which may for some reason be interrupted. So I consider this to be a crucial issue, not just economically, not just who gets the gross profits, but also for our own nation's security.
Q: Mr. President, you touched on this just a moment ago but I wonder if you would elaborate. You talk about the energy being a crucial issue yet it does not seem to have caught on in the country - A: I know.
Q: - as an issue. Do you hvae any views on why that is?
A: It caught on in the country in 1973 when our oil imports were reduced substantially and there were waiting lines at the gas pumps and the price rose quite rapidly. That was just the first warning sign of an inevitable shortage of oil and natural gas. It aroused the American consciousness this past winter when natural gas supplies were scarce, and we had schools close down, factories shut, transportation was interrupted. These are just the first warning signs. It is going to get worse instead of better, and I don't think there is any responsible international economist or analyst who doesn't agree with this fact.
Now there are several ways that it can be dealt with.One is to increase production, which we are trying to do on a worldwide basis. Another one is to cut down on comsumption. Another one is to develop alternative or new kinds of energy supplies. But there is no doubt that the American people at this point simply do not recognize the seriousness of the present problem and the future problems because it doesn't touch them mdividually yet.
But I don't want to see the American consciousness raised because of a devastating crisis that they have to expreience. We are trying to prevent the crisis, not just react to one.
Q: Mr. President, we are now focusing on energy but some of your critics have been saying that you are doing too many things and all at the same time.
What is your response to that?
A: I think if anyone analyzes already what the Congress has done in response to my request and on their own initiative, and the major legislation that they have persently before them, they would see that we made substantial progress.
I doubt that anyone would want to eliminate a particular proposal that we have put forward - the establishment of the Department of Energy, reorganization of the Executive Branch of government, or reform to our very complicated and wasteful welfare system, and so forth.
I don't think we are dealing with too many issues. The fact is that these issues are difficult, they are controversial, they are complicated. And I think we are making fairly good progress. But in my mind, on domestic affiars there is no doubt that the energy question is the most important.