Consumer advocate Ralph Nader yesterday accused Energy Secretary James R. Schlesinger of deliberately "subverting" President Carter's energy policy at the behest of the nation's oil and gas producers.
He said Schlesinger, whom he also accused of favoring nuclear over solar energy, should resign.
"Secretary Schlesinger is kind of the tail that wags the Presidential dog," Nader told reporters after he and six other consumer representatives met late yesterday morning with Stuart E. Eizenstat, assistant to the president for domestic affairs.
"Mr. Schlesinger represents an energy policy shaped by energy producers, instead of energy consumers . . . He should resign on the basis that his policies are subverting the campaign pledges of Mr. Carter on energy matters," Nader said.
The consumer advocate said he and his supporters voiced similar complaints about Schlesinger during the hour-long meeting yesterday with Eizenstat. He said Eizenstat's response was "generally noncommittal."
Eizenstat vigorously disagreed with Nader's assessment of his reaction.
"Noncommittal!" he exclaimed to a reporter. "I was anything but noncommittal. I refuted as specifically as I could every one of Mr. Nader's allegations.
"I told him that we thought that Jim was independent and that he was doing a good job. We spent energy and the like. They [the Nader group] thought that Jim was antisolar and pronuclear.
"I told them that they were wrong, that the secretary was increasingly learning in the solar direction, and that they ought to give him a greater chance," Eizenstat said.
He said Nader did not make a direct request for Schlesinger's resignation during the meeting. "In the beginning of the meeting, he made some allusion to his belief that Jim was somehow out of step with the administration's policy . . . I told him that we didn't think that was the case," Eizenstat said.
Still, Nader complained to reporters that Schlesinger has an "authoritarian bent of mind" that always seems to bend in the direction of big business and large energy producers "whenever there is a decision to be made in the Department of Energy."
However, Nader's choice at Schlesinger's alleged antisolar position to illustrate his point was not without irony.
For example, the Oct. 9th Business Week magazine included Exxon and General Motors - both Nader targets - among the "top 25 public companies" pushing solar products.