Bush Administration Sets Nation's Energy Policy Back 20 Years

Bush Administration Sets Nation’s Energy Policy Back 20 Years

DOE Issues New Proposal To Cut Back Alternative Fuel Goals

Julie Teel, Center for Biological Diversity: (619) 224-3400
Danielle Fugere, Bluewater Network/Friends of the Earth: (415) 544-0790 ext.15
Jay Tutchton, University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic: (303) 871-6034

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a proposed rule today to gut the 1992 Energy Policy Act’s goal of reducing the U.S. consumption of petroleum-based fuels for transportation by 30 percent by 2010.

DOE aims to push the date of compliance back 20 years to 2030, a time when a 30 percent reduction clearly will be too little too late. Today’s announcement exemplifies this administration’s pattern of glutting itself on fossil fuels and leaving the next generation to face the consequences.

In the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Congress established a goal of replacing 10 percent of the U.S. petroleum motor fuel consumption with alternative fuels by the year 2000 and 30 percent by 2010. Congress recognized that reducing U.S. fuel consumption would benefit the environment, economy and national security. Under the Act, DOE is required to develop and oversee a program to realize these goals.

In 2002 and earlier this year, the Center for Biological Diversity and Bluewater Network (a division of Friends of the Earth) won court rulings compelling DOE and other federal agencies to force compliance with several provisions of the 1992 Energy Policy Act designed to achieve these critical goals, including a requirement that federal fleets’ new vehicle acquisitions must now consist largely of alternative fuel vehicles.

The court also rejected DOE’s finding that it was unnecessary to impose alternative fuel acquisition requirements on cities or private fleets, finding unpersuasive DOE’s rationale that because the Act’s initial petroleum reduction goals were unachievable, there was no point in requiring cities and private fleets to reduce their petroleum usage. The Court ordered DOE to set a reasonable target and then assess whether city and private fleet acquisitions of alternative fuel vehicles would help achieve the petroleum reduction goal.

“Today’s announcement again demonstrates the DOE’s lack of initiative and is consistent with the Bush administration’s message on reducing our energy consumption, which is all rhetoric and no action,” said Julie Teel, Staff Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “On one hand, President Bush has admitted our nation’s addiction to oil. But on the other, he just deep-sixed one of the most foresighted statutory goals we have for recovery. It’s like a smoker saying he has a problem and wants to quit in 20 years; I know admission is the first step, but that kind of delay is deadly.”

By leaving yet another gaping leadership void in the effort to achieve clean air and a safer future climate, the Administration has ensured it will be someone else’s responsibility to deal with this pressing issue.

“This new goal underestimates our nation’s ability to harness technology and quickly reduce our petroleum use,” said Danielle Fugere, Global Warming Program Director for Bluewater Network, a division of Friends of the Earth. “The time to act is now. Alternative transportation fuels are here, they are available and DOE could help make the transition happen much more quickly. Instead, DOE is attempting to pass the responsibility and burden into the future.”

The Center for Biological Diversity and Bluewater Network have been represented in litigation under the Energy Policy Act by Center attorneys and Jay Tutchton, Director of the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic.

Further information is available online at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/programs/policy/energy/index.html, and http://www.bluewaternetwork.org.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and their habitats.

Bluewater Network works to stop environmental damage from vehicles and vessels, and to protect human health and the planet by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Bluewater Network is a division of Friends of the Earth, a non-profit organization with more than 30,000 members across the nation.