Blasting two U.S. senators’ plans to set up an energy commissionto investigate recent high natural gas and oil prices, North DakotaGov. Ed Schafer said last week the proposal would result in nothingbut 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 CompactCommission, suggested that the federal government should insteadconvene a roundtable discussion by a group of bipartisan governorswho would offer “solutions to strengthen the whole nation, not justour individual states.”

Schafer’s criticisms were sent in a letter to Sens. CharlesSchumer, D-NY and Susan M. Collins, R-ME, who proposed legislationlast week to set up a $500,000 commission to investigate highenergy prices. The amendment was tacked onto energy legislationthat had already cleared the House. The Senate approved the Housebill and the amendment, and the measure now goes to a House andSenate conference committee.

Among other things, the non-partisan commission would examinethe causes of energy supply disruptions, ways in which the UnitedStates could become less dependent on foreign oil supplies and waysto improve refinery capacity and utilization, transportation anddelivery systems and product storage. Collins said last week itwould be the “first step” toward crafting a sustainable energypolicy for the country.

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

“We will not offer you a magical, instant solution to a problemthat developed over years,” Schafer wrote. “A number of politicianshave already initiated ‘investigations’ that will, no doubt,attempt to assess blame. But there simply is no quick fix, andblame can be spread around so broadly that it would be satisfyingto no one. Congress might even have to share some of that blame.”

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