COAL SEEMS DESTINED for only a secondary role in the high-level review ordered by President Reagan into U.S. energy-related national security concerns.

The primary focus of the study reportedly will be conditions in the U.S. domestic and world oil industries, and U.S. oil consumption, including dependence on imported oil.The review group is expected to assess the present energy situation and outlook for the 1990s, examine current energy policies, determine the appropriate federal role in assuring that energy security goals are met and make policy recommendations to the president.

A report is due by the end of the year. The president has assigned the task to Energy Secretary John Herrington who has designated his deputy secretary, William Martin, to chair the inter-agency review group.

Participants will come from the Energy, Interior, State, Defense, Commerce and Treasury departments; the National Security Council; the Office of Management and Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency.

LOOK FOR THE CONTROVERSY over how much freedom railroads should have to raise freight rates to come up again when the new Congress convenes next year.

Coal and utility interests pushing legislation to limit that freedom make no secret of their intention to come back to Congress for another try at such a measure. Tney failed by a single vote to get it attached to the bill permitting the government to sell its interest in Conrail.

The railroad industry will continue to oppose the proposal strongly.

THE RAILWAY LABOR ACT, which governs rail contract negotiations, may be headed for a change in order to prevent local contract disputes from disrupting the entire national rail system.

President Reagan gave events a push in that direction when he signed a joint resolution last week ordering Guilford Transportation Industries and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes to adopt a congressionally recommended contract.

Mr. Reagan used the occasion to argue the act no longer reflects today's rail industry needs.

Regional rail disputes erupting on single carriers should not be allowed to shut down the entire national rail system and legislation preventing the unions from spreading a work stoppage to other railroads should be adopted, the president said.

There has been considerable interest in such a proposal, but action is not expected until after the new Congress convenes in January.

EXECUTIVES FROM MORE THAN 60 U.S. engineering, construction, architectural, equipment and service vendor firms are in Japan this week to attend a seminar on how to bid on that country's $8 billion Kansai International Airport project in Osaka.

The U.S. businessmen will talk with Japanese government and industry executives. Their trip marks progress in the U.S. campaign to convince Japan to open its construction market to U.S. firms.

According to Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, the U.S. delegation also has received an invitation to discuss the $6 billion Chubu International Airport project in Nagoya, Japan.

I think this is a sign the Japanese are getting the message, Mr. Baldrige said.

THE NEW WORLD BANK PRESIDENT, Barber Conable, surprised delegates to last week's annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting by his strong emphasis on helping the lot of women in the world's developing nations.

Women, he said, do two-thirds of the world's work, yet earn only one-tenth of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of the world's property.

He proposed programs to give women the skills to take charge of their productive and reproductive lives.

Mr. Conable's spouse, Charlotte, has long been active in national and international women's organizations.

HERE AT HOME, the Women Employed Institute is arguing that numerical goals and timetables for hiring under-represented groups in the work force has raised the number of women in responsible positions in the insurance and banking industries.

The institute told a House Labor subcommittee last week that the targeting of these two industries by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance during the administration of President Carter increased women's representation as bank officers and managers from 17.6 percent in 1970 to 44.4 percent in 1985.

The number of female insurance agents increased from 7.2 percent to 41 percent in the same time period.

The difference was not education, the institute said, since before federal intervention women college graduates in the banking industry were given strictly clerical career paths while women in the insurance industry were stuck in dead-end jobs as raters, customer service representatives , claims adjusters and secretaries . . .

Today these women are senior underwriters, claims managers and actuaries, the institute reported.

PRESIDENT REAGAN'S DECISION to meet in Iceland next month with Soviet Premier Mikhail S. Gorbachev came just as U.S. and Icelandic officials concluded a shipping treaty and a side agreement.

While the two events had nothing to do with one another, one wag got a laugh, as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met to consider the treaty, by suggesting that the high-level meeting in Reykjavik was part of the (treaty) package.

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