Cheney sees no quick fixes for US energy policy

The nation's energy problems won't be solved overnight, US Vice-President Dick Cheney told a group of high-technology business leaders Wednesday. He leads the Bush administration's interagency task force, which will offer recommendations to Congress in mid-May.

Apr 19th, 2001


By Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 19 -- The nation's energy problems won't be solved overnight, US Vice-President Dick Cheney told a group of high-technology business leaders Wednesday.

"We won't offer a quick fix, because there is none," Cheney told the Northern Virginia Technology Council. "In fact, narrow short-term thinking is what got the country into an energy crisis in the first place."

That doesn't mean today's problems can't be solved, he stressed. The White House's energy strategy will be comprehensive in approach and long-term in outlook, he said. Yet no one should expect a dramatic cure-all, the vice-president cautioned.

Senate and House Republican staff members made similar comments to industry groups earlier this week.

Cheney leads an interagency task force that will offer recommendations to Congress in mid-May. The oil industry expects the White House to expand public lands and waters available for exploration, including areas now restricted or off-limits to drilling.

Streamlining environmental permitting for refineries and electric power plants will be advocated, as well as expanded use of royalty in-kind programs, industry lobbyists familiar with the group's thinking predict. The administration also is expected to recommend the lifting of economic sanctions that block oil companies from investing in certain nations.

Although he declined to reveal the specifics of his group's pending energy policy proposals, Cheney said there are "principles that are guiding us."

Key to the White House energy strategy will be an emphasis on more domestic exploration and production and the pipelines and transmission facilities to deliver energy to the user.

According to Cheney, the US will need at least 65, maybe up to 90 new power plants every year for the next 2 decades to keep up with a growing economy. And some of those plants should be nuclear-powered, if the US "is truly serious" about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Republican congressional staff and Bush administration officials say the White House wants to see legislation designed to encourage "market-based" incentives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill criticized President George W. Bush for rejecting the Kyoto international climate change treaty. A related decision to not regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant also was controversial. With this in mind, Republican strategists say the White House is eager to demonstrate this latest policy decision does not mean the administration has abandoned environmental issues.

"Our strategy will insist on protecting and enhancing the environment, showing careful regard for the air and natural lands and watersheds of this country," Cheney said.

He blamed the Clinton administration for "ill-considered policies [that] have kept new [electric power] plants from being built, so that in generating capacity what we have is way below what we need."

Problems supplying the western power grid have helped focus the public's attention to the energy crisis, Cheney said. But California isn't the only reason rising energy costs have put downward pressure on the economy, he said. "The crisis in California was created in California. But it's one local sign of a national problem that's been building for the better part of a decade. Demand for energy has grown, supplies have tightened, and our dependency on foreign oil has increased."

Contact Maureen Lorenzetti at maureenl@ogjonline.com

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