WASHINGTON REPORT BIGGER COAL ROLE IN ENERGY STUDY

THE AUTHORS OF A HIGH-LEVEL STUDY requested by President Reagan on energy- related national security concerns may end up taking a harder look at coal than originally planned.

Coal seemed destined to play only a secondary role when the Energy Department announced late last month the formation of a review group to report on the energy situation, current energy policy and the appropriate federal role in assuring that energy security goals are met. The focus was distinctly on oil and gas.But Deputy Energy Secretary William Martin, chairman of the energy security review group, painted a different picture at a clean coal technology conference in St. Louis last week when he was asked, What about the role of coal in national energy security?

Mr. Martin reportedly responded that the energy security question couldn't be considered in a vacuum and that all forms of energy have to be examined. Additionally, he has requested assis tance and information for the review from the National Coal Association, and Commerce and Energy department officials also are expected to work on the coal-related aspects of the review. The report is scheduled to be sent to the president at the end of the year.

THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY'S long-awaited agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the union's retirement funds to support pension reform is considered a major breakthrough. But problems will remain when legislation to ease trucker's withdrawal liability is introduced in Congress next year.

All industries with multi-employer pension funds are subject to withdrawal payments and some senators want to ease the liability for all groups. But the House, taking a more cautious approach, apparently wants to address one industry at a time, with trucking first on the list.

A broad reform bill would almost certainly have a tougher time clearing the Congress than a trucking-only proposal that has the support of both employers and the unions.

Said one trucking industry insider: We've done our homework. Now let the other (industries) do theirs.

U.S. TRADE NEGOTIATORS soon will sit down with representatives of five countries in an attempt to end the controversial practice of pre-shipment inspections of exports.

Exporters complain that the inspections, which often cause voiding of contracts and prevention of importation, result in increased costs of over $150 million annually, and delays of up to 90 days. The inspections violate both bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, according to exporters.

The talks were scheduled in response to a unfair trade complaint filed by south Florida exporters who charge that Jamaica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Venezuela commission private companies to conduct the inspections. Instead of initiating a formal investigation, the Office of U.S. Trade decided to first try the negotiating approach. The companies commissioned by the five countries and representatives of the Florida traders also will take part in the talks.

U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Clayton Yeutter seems sure of his status within the Reagan administration, even in the area where his responsibilities meet important Republican political concerns.

He illustrated that confidence last week after announcing rejection of the U.S. rice industry's plea for a U.S. challenge of Japanese rice subsidies. Mr. Yeutter was asked about reaction from Republican senatorial candidates who represent rice producers in California and Louisiana and who are in close races important to the Republican effort to retain control of the Senate.

Mr. Yeutter ended the discussion by declaring: I'm not going to be intimidated (into making) . . . protectionist threats in order to project a macho image.

MEMBERS OF A STRATEGIC PLANNING GROUP appointed to chart a course for the St. Lawrence Seaway will give their preliminary recommendations to Seaway Administrator James Emery Wednesday. The recommendations are expected to cover three major areas: marketing, infrastructure needs and financial planning.

THE NEW ASBESTOS LAW signed by President Reagan last week contains a provision that will require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a report on the availability of liability insurance for schools and contractors removing asbestos from schools. An interim report is due by April 1, 1988, with a final document anticipated Oct. 1, 1990.

INSURANCE COMPANIES and trade associations doing business in the District of Columbia have formed a local insurance federation to act as a bridge between the industry and the district's political leadership.

They may be locking the barn after the horse is stolen since the need for such a group likely was underscored by the passage earlier this year of a district law forbidding insurers from using tests for AIDS before offering individual health or life insurance policies.

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