NRDC Offers Responsible Alternative to Bush Energy Plan

Group says Bush plan would threaten environment and public health, and provide no relief for consumers facing high energy bills

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2001) -- Vice President Cheney's energy task force today offered a smorgasbord of incentives for the energy industry, emphasizing the need to increase domestic fossil fuel supplies and renewing a commitment to nuclear power. It also offered some token incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, but according to energy experts at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the plan is heavily biased in favor of the most polluting fossil fuels -- coal and oil -- at the expense of the environment and public health.

"The Bush plan is a recipe for higher energy bills and more pollution," said David Hawkins, director of NRDC's new Climate Center. "It would provide no relief for Americans struggling to pay their gasoline and electric bills. And the Bush plan would despoil the environment, threaten public health and accelerate global warming." Furthermore, he said, the plan would have no impact on energy prices, and no practical effect on U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil.

"Who would benefit?" said Hawkins. "The oil, coal and auto industries, which shoveled millions of dollars into Bush campaign coffers. Who loses? Anyone who likes to breathe."

Today NRDC released a 35-page analysis titled "Slower, Costlier and Dirtier: A Critique of the Bush Energy Plan." This analysis follows on the heels of a report the group released in February, "A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century," which shows that the United States can meet its energy needs without undermining environmental safeguards or ruining the last remaining pristine wilderness areas in the country. The cornerstone of NRDC's plan is increased energy efficiency and fuel efficiency that relies on readily available, cost-effective technologies. Correspondingly, the plan calls for reducing U.S. reliance on coal and oil.

Findings by the Department of Energy support NRDC's policy recommendations. For example, Vice President Cheney recently claimed we have to build 1,300 electric power plants over the next 20 years to meet demand, but a November 2000 Department of Energy report found that energy efficiency and renewable power sources could meet 60 percent of the nation's needs for new plants. That would save money and reduce air pollution.

"Increasing reliance on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources would be the quickest, cleanest and cheapest way to meet our energy needs," said Daniel Lashof, science director at NRDC's Climate Center and coauthor of the February NRDC energy report.

"NRDC welcomes the opportunity for a public debate over America's energy future," said Rich Kassel, an NRDC senior attorney and campaign director of the group's Climate Center. "But that debate has to be an open, democratic and honest one, free from the taint of backroom deals and political payoffs. The Cheney task force recommendations fall far from that measure. Instead they illustrate how indebted the Bush administration is to its corporate benefactors."