At the Republican National Conference in Philadelphia last week,Republicans unveiled an energy platform that was highly critical ofthe existing policies of the Department of Energy (DOE), theFederal Energy Regulatory Commission and the EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA).

The DOE “has utterly failed in its mission to safeguardAmerica’s energy security. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commissionhas been no better, and the Environmental Protection Agency hasbeen shutting off America’s energy pipeline with a regulatory blitzthat has only just begun,” according to the Republican NationalCommittee platform. FERC, countered Chairman James Hoecker”operates on a bipartisan basis, and we think we’ve done a greatjob.”

The policies and regulations of the three agencies have createda “man-made nightmare,” but “at last the public is waking up anddemanding change,” it said. “What is at stake, after all, is notjust the price we pay to heat and cool our homes,” but rather a”New Economy, which relies heavily on electricity for itsinfrastructure and on petroleum for its trade.”

Not surprisingly, the Republican platform accused the Democraticadministration and the Democrats in Congress of dawdling overlegislation to deregulate electricity markets. Democratic lawmakers”are holding up the process, and the administration has provided noleadership,” it noted.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who was picked as the Republicanpresidential nominee last week, vowed to work with Republicancongressional leaders to pass the National Energy Security Act of2000, which was introduced by Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) in May.The measure proposes a broad-based package of tax measures andother incentives to spur the production of crude oil, natural gasand alternative energy in the Lower 48 states and Alaska.

Specifically, it seeks to open up for the first time the CoastalPlain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to explorationand development of oil and natural gas reserves; offer taxincentives for marginal oil and gas producers; improve federal oiland gas lease permit processing and management; provide royaltyrelief for producers in remote Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas;allow the expensing of oil and gas exploration costs and the delayof rental payments; expand the tax credit for renewable energysources; and maintain the ethanol tax credit.

The legislation also calls for the creation of a home heatingoil reserve in the Northeast to lessen the severity of the pricespikes that occurred last winter. But the DOE — at the request ofPresident Clinton — has beaten the Republicans to the punch. Theagency is in the process of establishing such a reserve as part ofthe Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Nevertheless, the Republicans believe the Murkowski bill is a”dramatic reversal of the nation’s present course,” and willprovide 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 afeverish pitch in the last few years, may gain even more cloutunder a Republican administration. “For reasons both constitutionaland environmental…..we will safeguard private property rights byenforcing the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and byproviding just compensation whenever private property is needed toachieve a compelling public purpose,” the party’s platform said.

Also, Republicans said they supported “multiple use of publiclands conducted in an environmentally and economically sustainablemanner,” which should be good news for energy producers whoseaccess to such lands for drilling has been limited in recent yearsunder the Clinton administration.

Susan Parker

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