The Bush-Cheney Energy Plan
Early in his administration, Bush and his advisors considered the oil supply essential to the health and profitability of leading U.S. industries. This concern prompted Bush to establish the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) and Vice President Richard Cheney was selected to lead the task force. Early on it appeared that the choice facing the policy planners was becoming ever more dependent on imported supplies or choosing the alternate route of reliance on renewable sources of energy and gradually reducing petroleum use.
The National Energy Policy Development Group wrestled with this dilemma and completed its report during the early months of 2001. At first glance, the Cheney report, as it is often called, appeared to reject the path of increased reliance on imported oil in favor of renewable energy. However, for all its rhetoric about conservation, the report did not propose a reduction in oil consumption. Instead, it proposed to boost production at home through the exploitation of untapped reserves in protected wilderness areas, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), an immense, untouched wilderness area in northeastern Alaska.
The Bush administration's struggle to keep secret the workings of Cheney's Energy Task Force has been ongoing since early in the president's tenure. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, requested information in spring of 2001 about which industry executives and lobbyists the Task Force was meeting with in developing the Bush administration's energy plan. When Cheney refused disclosure, Congress was pressed to sue for the right to examine Task Force records, but lost. Later, amid political pressure building over improprieties regarding Enron's colossal collapse, Cheney's office released limited information revealing six Task Force meetings with Enron executives.