Department documents now confirm what everyone
has long suspected - that in seeking guidance
on its energy strategy last year, the Bush
administration welcomed industry executives
and lobbyists with open arms, while treating
environmental groups like skunks at a picnic.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, for example,
held meetings last year with dozens of industry
representatives directly involving the energy
plan between late January and May 17, when
the White House released its energy report.
But he did not meet with conservationists
or consumer advocates. The documents also
suggest that while staff members of Vice President
Dick Cheney's energy task force eventually
consulted environmentalists, they did not
do so until late in the game, and then in
a perfunctory manner.
the deliberative process to more contrarian
views would probably not have deflected Mr.
Bush's advisers from the aggressively pro-industry
strategy they favored from the start, a strategy
that relies heavily on increasing supplies
of traditional fossil fuels like oil, natural
gas and coal. Still, it is distressing that
on a matter of this magnitude so few opposing
voices were heard. It is no less disturbing
that the industries that had the most to gain
- many of them major campaign contributors
- played such an intimate and influential
role in conceiving the final product.
narrowness of the administration's search
for advice was confirmed in more than 11,000
pages of documents released by the Energy
Department on Monday in response to a lawsuit
brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A separate suit against the department and
six other government agencies has been filed
by Judicial Watch. The documents were accompanied
by a press release boasting that the department
had surrendered 11,000 pages of documents
whereas the Defense Council had asked for
only 7,584. That might have been more convincing
if so many of the pages hadn't been blanked
out or sanitized.
department also provided a disingenuous chart
suggesting significant similarities between
the Defense Council's recommendations and
those adopted by Mr. Cheney's task force.
A closer examination of the two positions
reveals that on matters of central importance
- drilling on sensitive public lands, easing
clean air regulations, increasing fuel economy
standards - there are wide differences.
in part to the unbalanced Cheney report, the
House produced an alarmingly one-sided bill
with $27 billion in subsidies for traditional
energy producers, and only $6 billion for
conservation. In the Senate, a more promising
bill has been weakened by industry pressure.
That's what happens when only one side of
an issue gets a fair hearing in Washington.
2002 The New York Times Company
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