A cross-section of U.S. energy representatives last weekpresented a laundry list of initiatives that they believe the WhiteHouse, Congress and regulators must actively pursue to build up thenation’s energy inventories, which they warn are at dangerously lowlevels.

In a 52-page report issued last Wednesday, energy companyexecutives, lobbyists and industry analysts advocated a number oflegislative and regulatory actions that have long been sought bythe domestic energy industry, but which have taken on a new senseof urgency in light of the rolling electricity blackouts inCalifornia, threats of utility bankruptcies in the state, andsoaring natural gas prices this winter.

The report by the United States Energy Association (USEA) inWashington D.C. calls for greater access to federal lands to carryout environmentally sound production, investment tax incentives andaccelerated depreciation to encourage energy production andconstruction of new delivery infrastructure, more reliance on adiversified energy portfolio for the country, a balance betweenenergy and environmental concerns, regulatory policies that are”simple, durable and predictable,” and policies to encouragegreater investment in power generation and transmission facilities.

The USEA members believe these principles and others should becentral to any national energy policy that comes out of the WhiteHouse, and to any comprehensive energy legislation that emergesfrom Congress. A Cabinet-level task force chaired by Vice PresidentDick Cheney currently is working on developing an energy strategy,while Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) is expected to introduce a majorenergy bill today that will call for opening the Arctic NationalWildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling. The House isworking towards an energy bill or bills as well.

While the USEA report did not specifically mention ANWR,American Petroleum Institute President Red Cavaney said “everything— including ANWR — should be on the table” when consideringoptions to enhance domestic energy supplies. Cavaney is a USEAboard member.

The USEA members urged policymakers not to favor one supplysource over another, but rather to encourage the development of abroad-based portfolio of energy supplies — oil, natural gas,coal, nuclear, electricity and alternative energy. While theysupport continued development of solar, wind and biomass energysources, they recommended that policymakers focus their immediateattention on encouraging the development of traditional energyresources, which they said provide more than 98% of the nation’scurrent energy supply.

As for the role of energy efficiency, the group said efficiencyand energy production should have a “complementary relationship,”but it doesn’t believe there should be a “trade-off” of one for theother.

Moreover, the USEA called on policymakers to side withcompetition over regulation in the energy market. “…[G]overnmentofficials at all levels should not impose new regulations on theenergy supply system — even in an attempt to address health,safety and environmental issues — unless those regulations arebased on sound science and incorporate the most cost-effectiveoptions.”

On the international front, the USEA believes there are a numberof steps that the Bush administration and Congress can take tostimulate energy trade between the United States and Canada andMexico. The Bush White House could put energy on the agenda whennegotiating Western Hemisphere free trade agreements; work with thenew government in Mexico to allow U.S. companies to participate inthe oil, natural gas, coal and electric power sectors; andnegotiate a North American energy trade strategy with Canada andMexico, the group said.

Susan Parker

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