Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Energy jolt / Develop, don't conserve, is the Bush mantra

Editorial: Energy jolt / Develop, don't conserve, is the Bush mantra

Monday, April 18, 2005
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the jaws of this nation's burgeoning energy appetite, the efficiency of ceiling fans may be small potatoes. But blocking attempts to require fans to use less electricity looks like an integral part of the so-called Republican energy plan being cooked up in Washington.

Most of the plan involves -- surprise! -- $8 billion in tax breaks and other benefits for big energy companies. Very few of the measures on the fast track for passage would help free Americans from their embarrassing dependence on foreign oil, which President Bush frequently bemoans.

Only $488 million -- less than one-sixteenth -- of the tax incentives in legislation before the House Ways and Means Committee involve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources. Instead, industries would get multibillion-dollar breaks for such things as construction of electric transmission lines and natural gas pipelines.

Over in the Energy and Commerce Committee, GOP leaders pushed through an amendment to prohibit strict efficiency standards for ceiling fans that have been set or proposed in a dozen states. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Nathan Deal, Republican of Georgia, at the behest of Atlanta-based Home Depot, which sells ... a whole lot of ceiling fans.

Also on tap is legislation to get started with oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, even though exploration there is likely to produce only a six-month supply of oil a decade from now, if ever.

Conspicuous by its absence is any provision to spur badly needed conservation by requiring better gas mileage on new cars and trucks. The administration, supported by a dinosauric auto industry, continues to sneer at attempts to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, stuck in place for the past decade while American motor vehicles burn up an increasing share of the country's daily oil demand.

As the price of gasoline at the pump grows at a record pace, it appears that Congress and the administration are prepared to offer the public a warmed-over energy policy. Call it "ANWR or Bust."