Deregulation of oil and gas prices would increase inflation and unemployment, Sen. Howard P. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) told a crowd of 150 last night in the Winthrop House Junior Common Room.
The public supports an energy bill of some kind, but Congress came through with a soft measure that allows industry to pass increased costs on to the consumer, Metzenbaum said.
Metzenbaum spoke at the invitation of Barry Direnfield, his legislative assistant who now leads an Institute of Politics study group on "The Legislative Process."
Metzenbaum said he used more than 200 amendments written by Direnfield in an attempt to filibuster the energy bill.
Mandatory conservation measures in the bill did not pass, Metzenbaum said, citing as an example the "gas-guzzlers" provision that would have banned the production of large cars.
Because oil companies and consumer advocate organizations oppose the bill, everyone in Congress believes it is a good compromise, Metzenbaum said.
"I can't support the energy bill, but I have the luxury of being one senator who isn't running for president or Vice-President, and probably not for this office again," said the senator.
Metzenbaum faulted President Carter for choosing James R. Schlesinger '50, to be secretary of the newly-created Energy Department.
"Carter would be better off without him and the sooner he leaves the better," Metzenbaum said. He added that Schlesinger has alienated Congressmen who usually favor consumer interests and also legislators who support oil company bills.
In conclusion, Metzenbaum said he supports a mandatory conservation bill that would encourage development of solar and thermal energy while seeking to find alternative uses of coal.