The White House energy task force plans to forwardrecommendations for a national energy policy to Capitol Hill inearly April, according to a high-level staff official for the taskforce.

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

The task force’s recommendations will take three forms: proposedexecutive actions, regulatory agency actions, and recommendationsto Congress on comprehensive energy legislation, he noted. Therecommendations will be outlined in a report.

The “comprehensive document” will address a wide range ofissues, including the role of conservation and efficiency, the roleof alternative energy sources, short-term energy supply disruptionissues, an overview of U.S. energy supply and demand, the impact ofenergy 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 federalgovernment on energy matters, the staff official noted. While insome cases the federal government may need to get out of the way ofindustry and the private sector, in other situations it may need toundertake a more pro-active role, he said.

The task force members, according to the official, are eager toreceive feedback from the energy industry and the private sector onwhat needs to be included in a national energy policy. That’s wherethe really good ideas come from, he said.

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

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

Each department and agency has designated a staff member to workon the development of the energy policy. They meet two or threetimes a week together, and also separately to address differentcomponents of the report.

Susan Parker

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