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White House Can't Do a 'Darn Thing' to Aid CA

White House Can't Do a 'Darn Thing' to Aid CA

"I don't think there's a darn thing the [Bush] administration can do" to rescue California from the inevitability of energy supply shortages and blackouts this summer, a White House energy official said last week.

"The White House is looking at all [of] the options they can do" to help alleviate supply shortages in the wholesale energy markets in California and the western region by summer, the official noted during a conference of the National Energy Marketers Association in Washington, D.C. last Tuesday. However, in the end, she believes California may be pretty much on its own.

The Bush administration "fully recognizes that California is not just a California-only problem," the official said, but she doubted it would ever resort to price controls as a possible solution. "I can never say never" about price controls, but "I can't imagine" a situation occurring in California this summer that would cause the White House to flip-flop on this issue, she told energy marketers and customers.

The White House energy task force, which is headed up by Vice President Dick Cheney, will release "sometime this spring" its much-anticipated report that will identify the nation's energy problems and make recommendations on how to deal with them, she said. There is no date-certain for when it will be issued.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet-level task force has been inundated with more than 800 recommendations from the energy industry and the public --- with some of them ranging from "the ridiculous to the sublime" --- and has developed a background report, the official said. The 10-chapter background report devotes a "significant amount of time" to two issues --- alternative fuels and energy efficiency. "We hope there will be some groundbreaking.....things" in the final document, she noted. She indicated the report will not include proposals on tax or other economic incentives for the energy industry.

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