White House offers energy policy preview
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MAY 17, 2001

The White House on Wednesday night released an overview of the Bush administration's long awaited national energy policy, a summary which reveals little surprises about what the President will propose to address what he is calling "the most serious energy shortage" since the 1970s.

Yet while acknowledging current power shortage problems in California and high energy prices facing other parts of the nation, the plan is designed to provide long term solutions to problems Bush said started years before he entered office. At the same time, it addresses criticism the administration has endured for placing production over conservation.

That said, the policy calls for increased coal, oil, gas, and nuclear production, as expected. Immediately, Bush will issue an executive order to speed up approval of energy-related projects "in an environmentally sound manner."

Bush will also direct federal agencies to reduce "regulatory burdens" affecting licensing of hydropower projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has itself proposed to be the sole authority for water projects, including a call to take control of all dams in Indian Country.

Currently, several federal agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, have oversight of hydropower projects.

With a total of 105 recommendations, the administration is already pointing out the number which deal with conservation. White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer yesterday said 42 affect conservation and environmental protection, 35 address increasing supply, and 25 involve efforts to increase international energy resources.

"So as you can see where the President's priorities line up, a host of his recommendations focus on things like conservation," said Fleischer.

Some of the conservation minded recommendations include directing federal agencies to conserve energy at government facilities, providing tax credits for the purchase of hybrid and fuel cell automobiles, and reviewing existing fuel standards. Legislation to fund land conservation and reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury from electric power generators are also suggested.

But a call to increase funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency research is contradicted by proposed cuts in the Department of Energy's fiscal year 2002 budget. Funding for these programs in Indian Country have been proposed cut or eliminated by $25 million.

Even with the suggested focus on the environment, the policy's most controversial recommendation is opening up "a small fraction" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil and gas development. Although Bush recommends the $1.2 billion the government expects to receive in bidding for leases be directed to wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal research, the trade-off is one not likely to assuage critics of drilling.

Democrats, environmentalists, and the Gwich'in Alaska Natives oppose drilling. Oil companies and some Inupiat Eskimos support development and would gain financially if Congress approves exploration.

Although Republicans are promising to push Bush's energy proposal through Congress as quickly as possible, the votes to approve Arctic drilling aren't sufficient.

Bush will officially unveil the 163-page policy while in Minnesota today.

Get the Policy:
Reliable, Affordable, andEnvironmentally SoundEnergy for America’s Future (The White House 5/17)

Get Energy Overview (transcribed copy, contains ommissions):
Text: Overview of Report on Energy Policy (The New York Times 5/16)
You may have to register to read New York Times stories. If you do not wish to register, login with username and password

Get Bush's Remarks:
Cabinet Meeting, National Energy Policy (The White House 5/16)

Relevant Links:
Gwich'in Steering Committee -
Oil Issues in ANWR, US Fish and Wildlife -
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service -
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Pro-Development site -

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