Friday, July 27, 2007

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Loaded energy dice

International Herald Tribune Editorial - Loaded energy dice
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: July 26, 2007

The names of some of the corporate big shots and industry lobbyists who helped shape the deliberations and conclusions of the super-secret Cheney energy task force in 2001 are now beginning to surface, thanks to a former White House aide who provided a list to The Washington Post.

The task force, which developed a national energy policy, had all the time in the world for the big energy producers - some 40 meetings with the oil, gas and coal companies and their trade associations - but barely a moment for environmentalists. It's not surprising that its report favored producers of fossil fuels at the expense of conservation and alternative fuels.

Some energy experts say the Cheney report appears better balanced in retrospect than its critics claimed. But while it did assess a range of energy strategies, its actual recommendations were heavily weighted toward finding new sources of supply and removing regulatory impediments to oil and gas exploration and burning coal.

The report had immediate influence on Capitol Hill, where both the House and Senate produced alarmingly unbalanced energy bills, with billions in tax breaks and other subsidies for traditional energy producers and only peanuts, relatively speaking, for efficiency and alternative fuels.

Fortunately, the energy debate itself has moved on. The energy bill passed by the Senate last month is much less solicitous of big producers and much more favorable to newer, cleaner fuels. Some of the very companies that appeared before the task force in 2001 are now demanding more aggressive steps on climate change and oil dependency. Think how much more quickly we could have reached this point had the task force truly opened itself to new ideas six years ago.


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