The House Government Operations subcommittee on energy has concluded that federal and state plans for coping with extreme fuel shortages are either nonexistent or so bad they would be of little use if an emergency actually occurred.
Last November, Congress passed legislation designed to speed development of a standby gasoline rationing plan and encourage states to develop their own energy conservation programs for use in an oil shortage. Congress also authorized the president to set mandatory conservation targets for each state if an actual or potential energy shortage existed.
So far, however, Nebraska is the only state that has submitted a conservation plan to the Energy Department for approval, although Colorado and Utah have completed emergency plans designed to meet the law. In addition, the panel said , the Energy Department itself has "serious shortcomings" in established state gasoline conservation targets.
The subcommittee found planning is so bad that the president's powers to set mandatory state targets and plans "if needed today, would be virtually useless as an effective tool to respond to a national energy supply interruption."