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Energy - It's A Hot Item

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The energy crisis turned out to be the guest of honor at the 1973 edition of area League of Women Voters (LWV) chapters' annual interview with Second District Republican Congressman Marvin L. Esch on Friday. The meeting place, John Hathaway's Hideaway House (the old Second Ward Building on South Ashley), was long on atmosphere but short on heat. Twenty-five LWV members from Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Plymouth who had braved the cold and snow-slicked roads to attend sat around the Hideaway's huge wooden roundtable with their coats on and shuffled through sheets of prepared questions with cold-stiffened fingers. Congressman Esch, the intended guest of honor, was not at the table, but on it. Or rather, Esch was in Washington, wading through 62 amendments to the energy bill and awaiting a cali to the House floor for a vote on it. What was on the table was an amplification box beaming his voice from a telephone that representatives of Ma Bell were hurriedly installing when The News arrived moments before his scheduled personal annearanre J The meeting opened on a light note, as the Congressman apologized for not being able to keep the engagement ■ in person, but added that at a 'similar "appearance" toéfore the Advisory Council of Washtenaw Community College the previous evening he had been told that he "sounded great" and "had never I lookedbetter." He then noted that he'd been informed that his home district had just enacted one of the most effective known gasoline conservation proposals - namely snow. The interview also closed on the light side, as LWV President Naomi Gottlieb belatedly informed the Congressman that, "We have been taperecording your every word, and we have no intention of erasingit." In between, Esch spoke to questions raised by the LWV members on a wide range of topics: -Cross-district busing. The League's position on the issue is that busing as one among many solutions to the problem of equal educational opportunity should not be legisla, tively prohibited. Esch "fundamentally disaerees! . "There are many families in the suburbs around Detroit," he said, "whose whole life pattern is determined by whether or nol their children will be bused. "We're so tied up in the emotional dispute over using that we can't get' down to the business of educating children." He expressed hope that when the Supreme Court hands down decisions on several busing cases now before it, possibly in May, that it will make a clear statement that will make it possible to set the issue aside and get down to that business. What we should be concerned about, he said, is "equality of results - that every child be able to acquire basic skills and have the opportunity to go on to college or technical school and become contributing members of society." His own position is that this would better be achieved by providing for compensatory programs within the established structures and "accountability," which he defined as self-evaluation with each district. He is not convinced of the value of busing to achieve integration if segregation is the result of "social conditions," he said, but he ticipated thatïheSupremêl Court's decisión might obli-1 gate the states to undertakel "corrective redistricting" inl such situations. - Will environmental I cerns be sacrificed in face of I the energy crisis? Esch expressed regret that the Congres had not held up the Alaska pipeline bill for another six months in order to ' attach environmental controls. He also expressed serious disappointment over the failure of his efforts to have the pipeline laid through Canada rather than Alaska. This approach would have been better environmentally, he said, and also would have gotten the oil to vvere it is needed, namely the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard. But it appears, Esch said, that the Administration never seriously considered the proposal and, in fact, never even approached the Canadian government. - What are the prospects for getting housing legislation passed in time for appropriations next year? The Congressman said that the complete inactivily on any housing legislation for such a long time was "frankly absurd," but that Congress had held off, waiting for submission by the Administration of a promiseaññovanWr' creative" housing program that, he said, turned out to be "a non-program." Situations such as that in Detroit, where 15 per cent of all housing is federally-owned and is in deteriorated or uninhabitable condition, indícate that the government itself is the cause of much of the housing problem, Esch said, and make getting a housing program developed and passed quickly a high priori ty. -Is the state of Michigan benëfiting from any programs under the National Shorelines Act? Little is being done in MichI igan or any of the Great Lakes states under the legislation, Esch reported. The most serious issue as he sees it, Esch said, is whether the Army Corps of I Engineers should have responsibility for such projects in the first place. He said everyone knows, for example, that something needs to be done on the Lake Erie shore around Monroe, yet the Army procedures require three to four years just to get a project approved. . He said that he has been j pushing for transferral of civilian projects from the my to environmental protection agencies. - What are the prospects for the trade tegislation passed by the House in the past session but bogged down in the Senate? Esch said he doesn't believe ■ the President wants to face up to the questions being raised in connection with trade with the Soviet Union and that, therefore, the Administration probably will not push for passage of the bill. - What are his own priorities for the upcoming session of Congress? Esch listed pension reform, tax reform, housing; education, restructuring of Congress and campaign financing reform. He said that "it would be a real tragedy" if a campaign reform bilí were not passed in time for the 1976 election. Were there any surprises in the Congressman's remarks? The News asked League members afterwards. "Well, I was glad to hear what he said about the Alaska pipeline and to see that he hasn't sof tened up on our environmental concerns. "But, no. I guess there weren't any bombshells. We do this every year. And we ask questions about pretty much the same topics. And I guess we know pretty well what he's goingtosay." "I guess the most surprising thing," said another, "was that the tape recorder ivorkedso well." I