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IOGCC Blasts Call for Energy Commission

IOGCC Blasts Call for Energy Commission

Blasting two U.S. senators' plans to set up an energy commission to investigate recent high natural gas and oil prices, North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer said last week the proposal would result in nothing but finger pointing, and he asserted that there is no "quick fix" to the nation's energy problems.

Instead, Schafer, a member of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, suggested that the federal government should instead convene a roundtable discussion by a group of bipartisan governors who would offer "solutions to strengthen the whole nation, not just our individual states."

Schafer's criticisms were sent in a letter to Sens. Charles Schumer, D-NY and Susan M. Collins, R-ME, who proposed legislation last week to set up a $500,000 commission to investigate high energy prices. The amendment was tacked onto energy legislation that had already cleared the House. The Senate approved the House bill and the amendment, and the measure now goes to a House and Senate conference committee.

Among other things, the non-partisan commission would examine the causes of energy supply disruptions, ways in which the United States could become less dependent on foreign oil supplies and ways to improve refinery capacity and utilization, transportation and delivery systems and product storage. Collins said last week it would be the "first step" toward crafting a sustainable energy policy for the country.

However, IOGCC members, who have long advocated and developed an energy policy, said much of the groundwork is already in place.

"We will not offer you a magical, instant solution to a problem that developed over years," Schafer wrote. "A number of politicians have already initiated 'investigations' that will, no doubt, attempt to assess blame. But there simply is no quick fix, and blame can be spread around so broadly that it would be satisfying to no one. Congress might even have to share some of that blame."

Earlier this year, Schafer, who chaired the IOGCC in 1995, and fellow member Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma updated an energy policy document written five years ago. The IOGCC governors represent 30 energy producing states, and in August, led by Schafer and Keating, it unveiled its new and improved four-prong strategy that included the following: