"To speak exclusively of conservation is to duck the tough issues.
Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient
basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy," stated Vice President
Dick Cheney in an April 30 speech on the President's National Energy
Policy. Yesterday, five weeks later, the Department of Energy declared
that it will hold a series of seven meetings throughout the month of
June to receive public comment on the renewable and efficiency aspects
of the policy.
"The aim here is efficiency, not austerity," Cheney said on
April 30. " We all remember the energy crisis of the 1970s, when
people in positions of responsibility complained that Americans just
used too much energy.... Well, it's a good thing to conserve energy
in our daily lives, and probably all of us can think of ways to do so.
We can certainly think of ways that other people can conserve energy.
And therein lies a temptation for policymakers the impulse to begin
telling Americans that we live too well, and...that we've got to 'do
more with less.'"
Increased efficiency and renewable sources of energy are included
as part of Bush's National Energy Policy. The plan overview states,
" America has the technological know-how and environmentally sound
21st century technologies needed to meet the principal energy challenges
we face: promoting energy conservation, repairing and modernizing our
energy infrastructure, and increasing our energy supplies in ways that
protect and improve the environment."
"We are already working to meet the first challenge: using energy
more wisely," the overview continues. " Dramatic technological
advances in energy efficiency have enabled us to make great strides
in conservation.... While such advances cannot alone solve America's
energy problems, they can and will continue to play an important role
in our energy future." The plan adds, "Renewable and alternative
fuels offer hope for America's energy future. But they supply only a
small fraction of present energy needs. The day they fulfill the bulk
of our needs is still years away. Until that day comes, we must continue
meeting the nation's energy requirements by the means available to us."
In several appropriations hearings on the FY 2002 budget request for
DOE's energy programs, Members of Congress criticized the Administration
for proposing cuts ranging from 20 to more than 50 percent for various
components of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs (see
FYI #64). Key senate appropriator
Harry Reid (D-NV), has been quoted by National Journal's CongressDaily
as calling the Bush energy policy " shortsighted," and stating,
" Bush and Cheney don't believe in renewable energy, and I think
that is a mistake.... We have an ongoing battle with the Bush administration
because they think the only way to solve the energy crisis is to drill
in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and do more offshore drilling
for oil." Yesterday, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
unanimously passed a bill that would increase FY 2002 funding for energy
research and conservation above the amounts requested by the Administration.
Now, in open meetings around the country that will run 12 hours each,
DOE is prepared to receive up to 84 hours of public comment, beginning
on June 12, as part of what its press release calls "a comprehensive
review of the programs called for in President Bush's National Energy
Policy." In the release, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says, "
Energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy resources
are critical elements of the President's National Energy Policy. The
public's input at these meetings will help us identify opportunities
for future research and investment while assessing our past effectiveness
in these areas."
The release states that " comments offered at these meetings should
address the objectives of the current energy efficiency and renewable
energy research, development, demonstration and deployment programs;
suggested potential objectives for future programs; implementation of
current and future programs; and whether these federal programs are
achieving intended objectives."
For a list of the meeting dates and locations, please
see the DOE press release. Information about how to submit written
comments is also included in the press release.
Audrey T. Leath
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics