191. Memorandum From James Cochrane of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1
Last evening, in Rud Poats’ absence, I attended a meeting on energy. This committee doesn’t officially exist, but meets regularly after dark. It’s chaired by Kitty Schirmer and is (often) called the Interagency Energy Working Group.2 Two major issues were discussed last night.
First, the group worked through alternative ways the US could absorb its share of an anticipated world crude oil cutback of two million b/d. DOE’s projected US 1979 demand is 19.2 million b/d. DOE has developed a series of multiple responses which would reduce US oil demand from this status quo estimate, beginning in summer 1979. Much of the meeting was devoted to discussing the economic and political costs associated with various response measures. It was obvious after about an hour of discussion that a great deal of econometric work remained to be done, while political speculations are not in short supply. Both the CEA and DOE were to return at the next meeting, scheduled for February 26th, with additional analytical results.[Page 615]
The second major topic discussed at the meeting was the issue of the USG position to be taken at the next International Energy Agency (IEA) meeting, March 1–2.3 Steve Bosworth (State/Economic and Business Affairs) argued that the US should make a quantitative commitment to cut back crude oil imports. The group agreed that the US commitment would be a 4–5 percent reduction in oil imports. Bosworth pointed out that the promise would probably not be carried out by summer, but rather as 1979 went by. Bosworth argued that the actual percentage reduction in US oil consumption was less important to other IEA members than implementation of a mandatory USG conservation program. He further pointed out that the FRG is being tough on the issue of quota reductions. The FRG wants to maintain the status quo. The other IEA members will look to the US for resolution of this difference between the USG and the FRG. Finally, Bosworth pointed out that an OPEC Ministerial was scheduled for late March so that any actions taken by the IEA could possibly be reacted to quite soon.