Conservatives Clamor for Inefficiency

In his State of the Union address, Bush urged Congress to “pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy.” So you’d think programs that help businesses and consumers use less energy while saving money over the long term would be a no-brainer. Yet Bush’s 2006 budget slashes funding for energy-efficiency programs by 4 percent, including an 11 percent cut in building technology research and a 24 percent cut in industrial energy efficiency research.

Conservatives claim to support efficiency in all things — so why the opposition? Oil and gas companies contributed more than $4.5 million to George Bush’s 2004 campaign. Vice President Cheney’s secret energy task force contained 32 representatives from the fossil fuels industry, 20 from the nuclear industry, and zero from the renewables sector.

Is it possible that these big donors and allies oppose any serious effort to reduce demand for their products?

— Erica Stephan