WASHINGTON -- The Jimmy Carter thermostat control program that saved about 300,000 barrels of fuel daily has been turned off by President Reagan for being an 'excessive regulatory burden.'
In a proclamation issued Tuesday, Reagan terminated the 22-month-old program that prohibited public buildings from setting thermostats above 65 degrees in the winter or below 78 in the summer.
At the same time, Reagan ordered a review of all 'burdensome' regulations and a prohibition against any new measures unless they are the most efficient and least troublesome available.
The executive order applies mainly to Cabinet departments and does not affect independent regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission. But Vice President George Bush -- calling regulatory relief one of the administration's 'major economic initiatives -- made it clear the administration will attempt to change the direction of even those agencies through legislation and appointments.
The order empowers the Task Force on Regulatory Relief, headed by Bush, to review regulations that have 'an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.'
Bush and James Miller, task force executive director, said areas where Reagan plans to seek changes include: Transportation Department rules on access for the handicapped; Environmental Protection Agency noise emission standards; and amendments to the Clean Air Act.
During his campaign, Reagan ridiculed the public building thermostat program, saying it makes buildings 'too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.'
In his proclamation, Reagan said although temperature restrictions 'may result in reduced consumption of fuel, I have concluded that the regulatory scheme designed to accomplish that objective imposes an excessive regulatory burden and that voluntary and market incentives will achieve substantially the same benefit without the regulatory cost.'
An Energy Department aide said the restrictions saved an estimated $4.5 billion, or about 123 million barrels of imported oil. No building owner has ever been fined or reprimanded under the low-budget program.