“Watch what we do, not we say,” Attorney General John N. Mitchell accurately warned at the dawn of the Nixon administration. This could also be a fitting epitaph for President Bush’s energy policies. Despite frequent claims of support for renewable energy over the years, the record shows consistent opposition to efforts to spur investments in clean wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources.
The subterfuge began when President Bush announced his administration’s National Energy Policy on May 17, 2001. The White House’s plan was based on recommendations provided to Vice President Cheney from coal, oil, nuclear and other dirty energy companies. The speech included a soothing nod to renewable electricity–five weeks after the administration proposed slashing millions from renewable energy programs.
The routine has varied little since Bush first took office. President Bush pays lip service to clean energy technologies while opposing many voluntary incentives and other efforts to promote these very same technologies. Often, these events occur only days apart.
Another attempt at sleight of hand will occur tomorrow, when President Bush addresses the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference on Wednesday, March 5. This speech comes just seven days after the administration opposed House passage of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351. This bill would extend tax credits to encourage producers and homeowners to employ wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy technologies. Without an extension, an estimated 116,000 construction workers and other employees will lose their jobs.
President Bush will no doubt use his speech to extol the virtues of clean energy technology incentives even while he prepares to wield his veto pen to stop legislation that would do just that. This will only be one event in a long string of Bush rhetoric that doesn’t match reality.
What Bush Said
“The plan …expands and diversifies America’s supply of all sources of energy–oil and gas, clean coal, solar, wind, biomass, hydropower and other renewables, as well as safe and clean nuclear power”
Remarks to Capital City Partnership, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 17, 2001
What Bush Did
Only seven of the 105 recommendation in the National Energy Policy Report concern renewable energy. National Energy Policy report, May 17, 2001.
“The [energy] plan does little for efficiency or renewable energy.” New York Times, May 18, 2001
“I hope some day that these renewables will be the dominant source of energy in America. I’m not so sure how realistic that is.” President Bush, New York Times, May 19, 2001