163. Memorandum of Conversation1

    • President Nixon
    • George P. Shultz, Secretary of the Treasury
    • John D. Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs
    • Charles J. DiBona, Special Consultant to the President
    • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Energy Meeting

The President introduced Charles DiBona. The President spoke of the importance of the energy problem. Our national security said we should keep our oil in the ground and import what we need. But the unsettled nature of much of the oil-producing areas made this a problem.

Many interests were involved, the President continued: the needs of our security, industry, and the conservationists.

There were many spokesmen, and we must keep in touch with all of them. The Congress had many views. Connally was a good spokesman for compromise, but with also a good understanding of our security needs. Jackson had a very good grasp of the problem. There were also many bureaucratic interests involved: Departments like State, DOD, Interior, Commerce, Treasury, the NSC, the Domestic Council, and CIEP.

This issue cut across all lines and that is why we set up DiBona separate from any particular interest. It would be a very tough job.

People like Long 2 say we should spend our money here at home instead of giving it to the Arabs.

Mr. DiBona mentioned in fact that he had been in the Oval Office previously as Selective Service Director. The President agreed, but said that Mr. DiBona ended up outlasting Senator Smith.3

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Secretary Shultz agreed this was a very complex problem and we had varying degrees of knowledge about different parts of it. Probably we should package the things we felt confident about, and allude to the things we need to pursue farther before making recommendations to send to the Hill.

The President wished DiBona well, told him this was a tough job, and that the Selective Service was too easy for him. Curtis Tarr 4 had done well, but that this was more challenge.

In parting, he said DiBona shouldn’t be captured by Shultz, Ehrlichman, and Scowcroft, because they were special interests. The President said there was an enormous national security aspect to the issue. The environmentalists were a problem. There were of course good ones, but the kooks would have us going back to rubbing two sticks together.

The President said that we must consult and keep in contact with all these groups. He hoped Russell Train 5 was aware of the situation. Train should be kept read in so he knew what was going on, but not so much that he could substantially interject himself or interfere.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1026, Presidential/HAK Memcons, Memcons, Jan–Mar 1973. Confidential. The meeting took place in the White House Cabinet Room. Initially this meeting on energy issues was scheduled to take place in Ehrlichman’s office. Backup material for the meeting includes Document 156 and a February 5 memorandum from DiBona to Ehrlichman commenting on an attached Energy Options Paper. (Ibid., Box 250, Agency Files, National Energy Office, Vol. I, March 1972–February 1973)
  2. Senator Russell B. Long (D–Louisiana).
  3. Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R–Maine).
  4. Curtis W. Tarr was Director of Selective Service, April 6, 1970–May 1, 1972.
  5. Russell E. Train was then Under Secretary of the Interior and Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality. He would become the second Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May 1973. Nixon announced the formation of the EPA on July 9, 1970; it opened December 2, 1970, with William D. Ruckelshaus as the first Agency Administrator.