Picture, These men were incorrectly identified as oil executives in The Washington Post last Friday. They are, in fact, insurance executives, from left: W.D. Grant, chairman of Business Men's Assurance; Robert A. Beck, chairman of Prudential; V.J. Skutt, chairman of Mutual of Omaha; Henry C. Unruh, chairman of Provident Life and Accident, and Blake T. Newton Jr., president of the American Council on Life Insurance. They were at the White House to discuss with President Carter a program on neighborhood revitalization. By Frank Johnston - The Washington Post
President Carter met for almost two hours yesterday with oil industry leaders as part of a quickly convened round of meetings on rising prices and diminished supplies of gasoline.
The closed session at the White House, off limits event to photographers who customarily are given "photo opportunites," was billed as an effort by Carter to get information to help deal with gasoline shortages through the summer.
The meeting, called on a day's notice, was described by industry executives as cordial and helpful, although it apparently produced little agreement on either supplies or prices.
As Carter and the oilmen were meeting, House Democratic leaders held a session of their own to discuss their increasingly taut relationship with the presidnet over energy matters.
In recent weeks, Carter's standby gasoline rationing plan was rejected by the House, and the Demorcratic Caucus voted against the presidnet's proposal to decontrol the price of domestic oil.
Majoruty Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) said the Democrats "decided that instead of quarreling over things on which we couldn't agree, we would come out with things on which we could."
"We have decided to have a positive active energy program," Wright said. A centerpiece of it would be a bill he is cosponsoring, providing $2 billion in federal price supports and loan guarantees for synthetic fuel production projects.
After Carter meets at the White House today with consumer and environmental leaders, he is to fly to Camp David for an overnight social visit with 11 House Demorcats and their spouses.
The Camp David meeting, described by press secretary Jody Powell as primarily social, is something less than the energy summit recently urged by Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.).
The highest-ranking House Democrat at the meeting apparently will be Majority Whip John Brademas (D-Ind.). Wright and Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neil Jr. (D-Mass.) hand other commitments.
Brademas, commenting on the leadership session yesterday, said the Democrats agreed on a couple of points: "There has been too much naysaying . . . We need more vigorous, pressing, constructive steps to meeting the energy crisis."
A similar thread ran through Carter's meeting with the oil executives. Jerry McAfee, chairman of the board of the Gulf Oil Corp., summed it up this way:
"We endeavored to tell the president of the necessity for the government and the industry to end the fingerpointing aand name-calling."
McAfee said Carter's reaction wasnot unfavorable to the industry suggestion.
John Swearingen, chairman of the board of Standard Oil of Indiana, said the group emphasized to Carter that the basic problem is that "We do not have enough crude oil."
He said that Carter "can use his office to try to persuade the countries that have crude oil to produce and sell to this country. He can attempt to convince the public that the shortage is real."
Victor Rasheed, executive director of the Greater Washington-Maryland Service Station Association, added that one of the soulutions proposed to the president was a change in federal regulations that limit dealers' profits.
Rasheed said, "There has been some price-gouging perhaps by some oil compainies," but other causes have contributed to the increases. "There must be a change in the regulations so the dealer can make a reasonable margin of profit," he said.
Charles DiBona, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said, "Our assessment is that while the fuel situation is tough and it's hard to perdict the level of imports, we should be able to deliver fuel very much on the order of last year . . . Its is tight, but not any crisis."