The President has today directed the Federal Energy Administration to rescind amendments to its regulations that could have exempted motor gasoline from FEA's price and allocation controls effective March 1.
As a result of the President's action, the gasoline decontrol proposal issued by the prior administration on January 19 is withdrawn from congressional consideration. FEA Acting Administrator Gorman C. Smith has so notified the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Under the withdrawn amendments, gasoline decontrol would have become effective on March 1 if not disapproved by either House of Congress within 15 days of its submission.
President Carter does not by this withdrawal intend to imply any position on the ultimate merits or demerits of gasoline decontrol. Instead, he intends to conduct a review of these controls as an integral part of the development of an overall energy policy. Among other things, such a review will examine the prior administration's contention that competitive market forces would restrain prices for motor gasoline below levels which would be permissible even if controls remained in effect.
In addition, by directing withdrawal of these amendments, the President hopes that the issue of gasoline decontrol can be examined under circumstances more conducive to careful consideration of the implications of an end to such controls. Time is urgently needed now both by the administration and the Congress to focus immediate attention on the present major shortages of natural gas and its substitute fuels. These shortages raise the possibility that adjustments in refinery runs may be necessary to provide additional supplies of these substitute fuels. This, in turn, could lead to impacts on the motor gasoline markets which could be effectively handled only with the maintenance of price and allocation controls over the near term.
The administration recognizes that there are significant problems with the existing control mechanism, but believes that a hastily considered action removing such controls might create far more serious problems.