GOP: Energy 'Nightmare' Is Democrats' Legacy
At the Republican National Conference in Philadelphia last week,
Republicans unveiled an energy platform that was highly critical of
the existing policies of the Department of Energy (DOE), the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
The DOE "has utterly failed in its mission to safeguard
America's energy security. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
has been no better, and the Environmental Protection Agency has
been shutting off America's energy pipeline with a regulatory blitz
that has only just begun," according to the Republican National
Committee platform. FERC, countered Chairman James Hoecker
"operates on a bipartisan basis, and we think we've done a great
The policies and regulations of the three agencies have created
a "man-made nightmare," but "at last the public is waking up and
demanding change," it said. "What is at stake, after all, is not
just the price we pay to heat and cool our homes," but rather a
"New Economy, which relies heavily on electricity for its
infrastructure and on petroleum for its trade."
Not surprisingly, the Republican platform accused the Democratic
administration and the Democrats in Congress of dawdling over
legislation to deregulate electricity markets. Democratic lawmakers
"are holding up the process, and the administration has provided no
leadership," it noted.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who was picked as the Republican
presidential nominee last week, vowed to work with Republican
congressional leaders to pass the National Energy Security Act of
2000, which was introduced by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) in May.
The measure proposes a broad-based package of tax measures and
other incentives to spur the production of crude oil, natural gas
and alternative energy in the Lower 48 states and Alaska.
Specifically, it seeks to open up for the first time the Coastal
Plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration
and development of oil and natural gas reserves; offer tax
incentives for marginal oil and gas producers; improve federal oil
and gas lease permit processing and management; provide royalty
relief for producers in remote Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas;
allow the expensing of oil and gas exploration costs and the delay
of rental payments; expand the tax credit for renewable energy
sources; and maintain the ethanol tax credit.
The legislation also calls for the creation of a home heating
oil reserve in the Northeast to lessen the severity of the price
spikes that occurred last winter. But the DOE --- at the request of
President Clinton --- has beaten the Republicans to the punch. The
agency is in the process of establishing such a reserve as part of
the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Nevertheless, the Republicans believe the Murkowski bill is a
"dramatic reversal of the nation's present course," and will
provide a "balanced portfolio of energy options that is stable,
secure and affordable, with minimal impact on the environment."
Landowners, whose opposition to gas pipelines has reached a
feverish pitch in the last few years, may gain even more clout
under a Republican administration. "For reasons both constitutional
and environmental.....we will safeguard private property rights by
enforcing the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and by
providing just compensation whenever private property is needed to
achieve a compelling public purpose," the party's platform said.
Also, Republicans said they supported "multiple use of public
lands conducted in an environmentally and economically sustainable
manner," which should be good news for energy producers whose
access to such lands for drilling has been limited in recent years
under the Clinton administration.