U.S. Groups Say Federal Energy Plan Ignores Conservation

The energy plan that is due to be released by the U.S. White House next Thursday will favour oil, nuclear and coal interests while ignoring renewable energy and conservation, say three groups.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-10 <SolarAccess.com> “The Vice President’s forthcoming energy plan will place top priority on polluting technologies of the past while gutting programs that push cleaner, modern solutions,” says Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The economy and environment would be better served by a truly balanced energy plan – one that incorporates common-sense efficiency measures for vehicles, buildings, and industry with investments in clean, renewable energy.” “The president’s budget has nearly switched off funding for renewable power,” adds Alan Nogee of UCS. “Continued support would make these technologies even more competitive with fossil fuels. Perhaps this is what the administration’s friends in the fossil fuel industry fear.” UCS, the National Resources Defense Council and the National Environmental Trust are among the groups that accuse the Bush administration of ignoring the role of energy conservation measures. Many are concerned that the final report of the energy task force, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, will promote the growth of nuclear, coal and other fossil fuels. Renewable energy could supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020, according to UCS studies. Legislation sponsored last year by Senators James Jeffords (R-VT) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) would have assured that renewable energy development met that target. Five national laboratories also concluded that renewables could supply at least 7.5 percent of domestic electricity by 2010. Combined with energy efficiency improvements, that study found that energy costs to consumers would decline in the advanced renewable technology scenario. “Energy efficiency and renewables can reduce our vulnerability to power shortages and help avoid fossil fuel price spikes,” adds Nogee. “The administration should be plugging America into these clean power sources, not more dirty coal or unsafe nuclear power.” The administration budget has proposed cuts in funding for research in solar, wind and geothermal energy by nearly 50 percent. It has also proposed cutting funding for programs to improve energy efficiency in buildings and in industry by half. Cheney recently said that research breakthroughs would allow non-hydro renewable energy facilities to supply 6 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2020, triple the current level of supply. UCS says the administration has not yet explained how those breakthroughs would occur with the cuts in research and development budgets. “It’s no surprise that an administration dominated by oil executives would push for increased oil drilling, yet opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling today would not yield a drop of oil for at least a decade,” explains Michelle Robinson of UCS. “Curbing our oil appetite through more efficient SUVs and light trucks could save more oil within the next 15 years than can be economically recovered from the Arctic over the next 50 years.” “Contrary to his claims, the Vice President has not consulted with anyone other than the oil, coal and utility industries in assembling his energy plan,” adds Phil Clapp of the National Environmental Trust. “When you go behind closed doors and write the nation’s energy policy with industry lobbyists, what you get is a plan that benefits corporations, not consumers.”

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