Richardson: More Help On the Way for Producers
While making clear the administration would not be engaging in
any market-rigging through price ceilings or floors, Energy
Secretary Bill Richardson said it nevertheless was working on
further measures to aid the depressed oil and gas industry.
One of the measures could be some form of tax credits,
Richardson said, responding to questions at a National Press Club
luncheon last week. But he cautioned the matter is still under
discussion in the administration. Also, reminding he was from New
Mexico and had an understanding of the problems of the oil and gas
sector, the energy secretary said he would be visiting Oklahoma and
other energy states to discuss the situation. The administration
further is planning a meeting at the White House with industry
representatives "very soon. We're ready to come up with a plan to
help, but we will not interfere in oil markets or with oil prices."
Richardson pointed out the administration had already taken some
actions to help, such as filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
with domestic oil and relaxing federal royalties for marginal
The energy secretary also promised a new Energy Department bill
would be offered within six weeks to restructure and reform the
electric industry which "will be better policy-wise and get a few
more votes - that's not saying much because there weren't that many
votes last year.
"I am going to push this bill and I predict that at the end of
this congressional session we will have an electricity reform bill
-- a bi-partisan bill," which will be "more consumer friendly,
greener and more competitive."
The first question out of the box after Richardson's speech was
whether he would be running for vice president on a Gore ticket or
for governor of New Mexico. And the answer: "I'm happy where I am,"
but at the same time "it's not in my hands." Richardson, who has
been looking more and more like a national candidate recently, said
he wanted to stay at the Energy Department for awhile since the
agency has had several top executives over the last year and
"hasn't shown that much stability." Richardson himself has had two
jobs in the last year, taking over as energy secretary in August
while still holding down the post of U.S. delegate to the United
Nations. The overlap was due to a congressional flap over the
confirmation of his successor at the U.N.
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