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Environmentalists Had Limited Access to the White House Energy Task Force

A March 25 Department of Energy (DOE) press release claimed that environmental organizations refused offers to provide recommendations to the White House energy task force. The department also claimed it "actively sought all viewpoints." The press release specifically quoted an August 10, 2001, letter from DOE to the General Accounting Office that claimed the department contacted environmental organizations to solicit recommendations and "encountered a lack of responsiveness."

In fact, DOE's attempt to solicit input was not a serious one. One of the DOE documents released on April 10, 2002, shows that the task force gave one of its staff members 48 hours to contact 11 environmental groups to obtain their policy recommendations. The March 21, 2001, memo (attached) from a DOE official, Margot Anderson, to another DOE staff member, Peter Karpoff, asks Karpoff to review any submitted proposals and "recommend some we might like to support that are consistent with the Administration energy statements to date." Although NRDC was not among the 11 environmental groups listed in the memo, we did receive a call around this time from a DOE staff member, who gave us 24 hours to provide recommendations to the task force.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met with more than 100 representatives from the energy industry and trade associations from late January to May 17, 2001, when the task force released its report. Environmentalists requested one meeting with him and another with Vice President Cheney. Both requests were denied.

  • Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense, requested in writing a meeting with Vice President Cheney, the energy task force chairman, on behalf of the Green Group, which includes NRDC. The letter was dated February 16, 2001. Cheney would not meet with the Green Group. Instead, task force staff director Andrew Lundquist met with the Green Group on April 4, 2001.

  • The Green Group requested a meeting with Energy Secretary Abraham in a letter dated February 20. Abraham's scheduler, Kathy Holloway, denied the request in a February 26 phone call, saying that the secretary was too busy.

NRDC staff members did meet a handful of times with White House energy task force staff members.

  • Andrew Lundquist met with representatives of the Green Group on April 4, 2001, as reported in the New York Times. Lundquist organized the meeting, possibly because the administration was taking a beating in the press for meeting mostly with energy executives and lobbyists. The following environmentalists met with Lundquist: Alys Campaigne (NRDC); Anna Aurillio (USPIRG), Kevin Kurtis (National Environmental Trust), Elizabeth Thompson (Environmental Defense), Jim Lyon (National Wildlife Federation), Eric Pica (Friends of the Earth), Deb Callahan (League of Conservation Voters), Bob Musil (Physicians for Social Responsibility), Robert Dewey (Defenders of Wildlife), Catherine Silverthorne (World Wildlife Fund), Sandra Schubert (EarthJustice), Liz Birnbaum (American Rivers), Bud Ris and Alden Meyer (Union of Concerned Scientists) and Roger Rufe (Center for Marine Conservation). The meeting lasted less than an hour, and a much of the time was taken up by introductions.

  • An NRDC energy expert, Patricio Silva, met on March 13, 2001, with Karen Knudson, a deputy to Andrew Lundquist. A representative from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers was at the meeting. They discussed air conditioning efficiency standards and DOE budget priorities.

  • NRDC senior scientist Dan Lashof met twice with Lundquist. On March 7, 2001, he met as a member of a coalition supporting the CLEAR Act (S. 760). An aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) arranged the meeting, which included representatives from Ford Motor Co., the alternative fuels industry, Environmental Defense and Americans for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Lashof later met again with Lundquist on May 10 to discuss energy efficiency provisions. Other attendees were from the Alliance to Save Energy and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Given that the task force report came out on May 17, it is doubtful this meeting had any affect on the report's recommendations.

  • On June 5, NRDC President John Adams and NRDC Climate Center Director David Hawkins, Carl Pope and Dan Becker from Sierra Club, Alden Meyer and Bud Ris from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Gene Karpinski and Anna Aurillio from USPIRG had a meeting with Cheney and 12 other staff members, including Lundquist and Scooter Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. Cheney called the meeting to discuss his false claim that the task force report included 11 of 12 Sierra Club recommendations.

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