Responding to today's release of the Bush administration's energy policy, Buck Parker, executive director of Earthjustice said, "We are deeply concerned by several aspects of President Bush's energy policy. Our first indication that trouble was on the horizon was in the way the task force assigned to create the policy was assembled and run. Headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, himself a former oil company executive, the task force was overwhelmingly composed of individuals whose sympathies lie with energy development industries. While task force support staff held one perfunctory meeting with representatives of the environmental community, there was no meaningful consultation. In fact, numerous requests from environmental leaders to meet with the Vice President were denied. In addition, task force meetings were held in extreme secrecy, and task force members refuse to reveal whom they did speak with or what was said. It is bad business for our government to be conducting energy and environmental discussions and to be making decisions that have such far-reaching implications and consequences behind closed doors and with so little consideration for public health and environmental safeguards. Americans should not tolerate that kind of action from our leaders in Washington.
"The policy itself is loaded with gifts for special interests and corporate entities, many of which helped to get President Bush elected. This policy is just another form of payback for Bush administration friends who view environmental and public health safeguards primarily as impediments to higher profits. The President has sought to amplify energy problems caused by failed deregulation schemes in California and elsewhere into a national energy crisis only to convince the public that we need to roll back the vital protections that are in place to protect our families from well-documented dangers. Those in charge in Washington must truly hope that Americans are gullible enough to believe that just because the President and Vice President – both former oil men – say there's an energy crisis, we should give the fossil fuel industry and others the go-ahead to poison our air and to destroy our national treasures. I say Americans won't buy it.
"There certainly are energy issues in California, but no credible source can place that blame on environmental regulations. Environmentalists, business leaders, and California government officials all agree that environmental and health safeguards have had no bearing on the energy situation in California. Moreover, considering that the US contains less than three percent of the world's oil reserves, drilling our national treasures will never alleviate gasoline price spikes. Like it or not, OPEC, with 78 percent of the world's oil, will continue to be the dominant force that determines pricing.
"The Bush administration is trying its best, but it is not going to be able to pull the wool over America's eyes. We can have a responsible energy policy while maintaining, and even improving, the vital laws that keep us safe. And we must invest much more time and resources than what the President has committed to in expanding research and development of energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, without setting the funding of these programs up to be hostages to drilling America's last wild lands, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This newfound interest of the President in energy efficiency and renewables was not evidenced in the budget he sent to Congress that cut many of these programs by more than 40 percent. That is the hope of the future, not continued drilling, destroying, and polluting. Earthjustice attorneys and policy advocates will review very carefully the energy policy that was released this afternoon and we will continue to defend the right of all Americans to a healthy and clean environment."