Tags: Bush | Plans | Short-Term | Energy | Relief

Bush Plans Short-Term Energy Relief

Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM

"My plan helps people in the short term and the long term," Bush said after a meeting with his energy task force, which formally presented its energy policy proposals to the president after working on the report for three months.

Bush plans to debut the administration's energy policy with speeches at energy facilities in Minnesota and Iowa today.

A comprehensive energy policy was one of Bush's central campaign pledges and one of the first issues taken up by Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush, Cheney and White House officials have stressed the long-term focus of the energy proposals and have downplayed the plan's immediate impact on U.S. energy supplies until Wednesday.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said oil markets were likely to loosen in the coming months because of Bush's pledge to increase U.S. exploration and production, the main aspects of the White House energy plan. If consumers and the oil industry expect more oil over the long term, Fleischer argued, then short-term prices were likely to either stabilize or drop.

The price of a gallon of gasoline and a barrel of crude oil, two political and economic bellwethers, have been creeping up for months, and increased energy use this summer is expected to hike prices further. The price of a gallon of gasoline has risen beyond $2 in some parts of the country and outcry at the pumps is mounting as political pressure in Washington.

But Aaron Brady, who tracks oil markets as a senior analyst at Energy Security Analysis Inc., said gas prices were set to drop in the coming weeks because shortages on the U.S. market had attracted imports from foreign refineries in places like Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada and Europe.

"Prices are coming down and it's not because of anything they say," Brady said when asked about the White House's suggestion that markets will react to the administration's energy policy. Brady's Boston consulting firm has clients such as airlines, shipping companies and oil firms that use price forecasts for budgeting. He said gasoline prices likely already had peaked and that drivers could expect slightly lower prices at the pump through the summer, regardless of the White House's forthcoming energy policy.

Democrats already largely denounced Bush's plan and come up their own proposals, which they say address power crises like in California and other Western states.

"The president has no program for the short term, telling people they are on their own," said

Cheney's energy task force has offered some details about the forthcoming report ahead of the official unveiling. Cheney said the United States would need to lay at least 38,000 more miles of natural-gas pipelines and thousands of miles of additional distribution lines that would pump gas into homes and businesses.

Over the next 20 years, just meeting projected demand will require from 1,300 to 1,900 new power plants, averaging out to more than one new plant a week for 20 years running, Cheney said. And the White House plan would also call for opening only 2,000 acres in the huge Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

That has drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups, which are already rallying against the plan, too.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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My plan helps people in the short term and the long term, Bush said after a meeting with his energy task force, which formally presented its energy policy proposals to the president after working on the report for three months. Bush plans to debut the administration's...
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2001-00-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 12:00 AM
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