Vice President Cheney Led “Energy Task Force” that Recommended Industry-Friendly Policies

Bush Created Energy Task Force, Led By Cheney, To Create A Report On Energy Policy. According to Mother Jones, “The energy task force was created days after onetime oilman George W. Bush took office in 2001, and was headed by Cheney, a former CEO at Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of oilfield products and services. For months, the task force solicited input on US energy policy. On May 16, 2001, the group issued its final report, which was submitted to Congress in June. But the participants and details of the discussions were kept tightly under wraps.” [Mother Jones, 6/10/10]

Task Force Report Recommended Increasing Domestic Oil, Gas, And Coal Production, And Proposed Drilling In ANWR. According to the Washington Post, “The task force issued its report on May 16, 2001. Though the report was roundly criticized by environmental groups at the time, some energy experts say that in retrospect it appears better balanced than the administration’s actual policy. Divided into eight chapters, the report correctly forecast higher energy prices, stressed energy efficiency and conservation, and pushed for boosting domestic conventional energy supplies and increasing use of renewable energy. Although it advocated wider drilling and omitted climate-change measures, it also said that ‘using energy more wisely’ was the nation’s ‘first challenge.’ Some key proposals, such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, have never won congressional approval, but some measures to encourage oil and gas production, coal output, and the development of biofuels and nuclear power have been included in Bush’s budgets and in the 2005 energy bill.” [Washington Post, 7/17/07]

Mother Jones, “Many Of The Recommendations From The Task Force Report Were Adopted In The 2005 Energy Policy Act.” According to Mother Jones, “Many of the recommendations from the task force report were adopted in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. That legislation provided $6 billion in subsidies for oil and gas development. Royalty payments for oil and gas development were waived in several regions of the US. Some companies were allowed to pay royalties with oil, rather than money—a less transparent system that was more vulnerable to abuse. The bill also provided $1.5 billion in direct payments to companies to incentivize drilling in deepwater wells, and curtailed the power of states to oversee oil and gas exploration off their coasts under the Coastal Zone Management Act. In addition, the bill weakened environmental protections for offshore drilling, making it easier to exclude a broad range of exploration and drilling activities from analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. This has been cited as the reason that the Deepwater Horizon site was not subjected to a thorough environmental analysis.” [Mother Jones, 6/10/10]

Task Force Met With Environmental Leaders Only After Dozens Of Meetings With Industry Groups, By Which Time A Draft “Was Substantially Complete.” According to the Washington Post, “A confidential list prepared by the Bush administration shows that Cheney and his aides had already held at least 40 meetings with interest groups, most of them from energy-producing industries. By the time of the meeting with environmental groups, according to a former White House official who provided the list to The Washington Post, the initial draft of the task force was substantially complete and President Bush had been briefed on its progress.” [Washington Post, 7/17/07]

Electric, Mining, Oil, And Natural Gas Industry Representatives Including Exxon, Enron, BP, And API Met With Task Force. According to the Washington Post, “One of the first visitors, on Feb. 14, was James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; a week later, longtime Bush supporter Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp., came by for the first of two meetings. On March 5, some of the country’s biggest electric utilities, including Duke Energy and Constellation Energy Group, had an audience with the task force staff. British Petroleum representatives dropped by on March 22, one of about 20 oil and drilling companies to get meetings. The National Mining Association, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute were among three dozen trade associations that met with Cheney’s staff, the document shows. The list of participants’ names and when they met with administration officials provides a clearer picture of the task force’s priorities and bolsters previous reports that the review leaned heavily on oil and gas companies and on trade groups — many of them big contributors to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party.” [Washington Post, 7/17/07]

Many Of Chevron’s Recommendations On How To “Eliminate Federal Barriers To Increased Energy Supplies” Were Included In Task Force Report. According to Mother Jones, “But we do have a few more details about other oil industry players in the talks. Chevron’s CEO contributed a detailed list … of ways in which the government could ‘eliminate federal barriers to increased energy supplies’—many of which were incorporated in the task force’s final report. This included recommendations to ease federal permitting rules for energy development and a request that the administration support opening up new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil and gas development. Doing so, wrote Chevron CEO David O’Reilly, would ‘demonstrate a commitment to reject unjustified opposition to new energy leasing and development.’” [Mother Jones, 6/10/10]

Bush Issued Energy-Friendly Executive Order Two Months After API Offered Nearly Identical Draft. According to Mother Jones, “The American Petroleum Institute offered its own long list of suggestions for energy policy. A March 20, 2001, email from API to an official at the Energy Department included a draft executive order calling for all federal agencies to issue a detailed statement on any regulatory action that ‘adversely affects energy supply, distribution or use.’ It was nearly identical to the order Bush issued just two months later.” [Mother Jones, 6/10/10]