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Energy Task Force Proposals Should Be Ready in April

Energy Task Force Proposals Should Be Ready in April

The White House energy task force plans to forward recommendations for a national energy policy to Capitol Hill in early April, according to a high-level staff official for the task force.

The task force favors making specific policy recommendations rather than sending its own comprehensive energy legislation to Congress, said the staff official at the winter committee meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Washington, D.C. last Tuesday.

The task force's recommendations will take three forms: proposed executive actions, regulatory agency actions, and recommendations to Congress on comprehensive energy legislation, he noted. The recommendations will be outlined in a report.

The "comprehensive document" will address a wide range of issues, including the role of conservation and efficiency, the role of alternative energy sources, short-term energy supply disruption issues, an overview of U.S. energy supply and demand, the impact of energy production on the environment, protections for consumers (especially low-income families) and infrastructure investment.

In addition, the task force is examining the role of the federal government on energy matters, the staff official noted. While in some cases the federal government may need to get out of the way of industry and the private sector, in other situations it may need to undertake a more pro-active role, he said.

The task force members, according to the official, are eager to receive feedback from the energy industry and the private sector on what needs to be included in a national energy policy. That's where the really good ideas come from, he said.

He indicated the Cabinet-level task force probably would have a different take on some of the energy issues than Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), who introduced an omnibus energy bill in the Senate last Monday. But he declined to identify areas where the White House and Murkowski might differ. All in all, he thinks the Murkowski bill contains a lot of good ideas for the energy industry and consumers.

The task force meets formally every couple of weeks, he noted. Sitting on the panel are the secretaries of the departments of Interior, Treasury, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture, as well as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Each department and agency has designated a staff member to work on the development of the energy policy. They meet two or three times a week together, and also separately to address different components of the report.

Susan Parker

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