Huntingdon College program in Political Science and Public Affairs:

Energy Task Force Update
NOW with Bill Moyers, PBS,
broadcast 29 March 2002.
Page compiled by Jeremy Lewis.

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                               Energy Task Force Update
 
                                Now something new on a story we first reported on a few weeks ago the
                                efforts in Washington to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the administration's
                                energy task force, that group headed by Vice President Cheney, seemed to be
                                paying extra attention to the interests of industry. Here's our update:

                                MOYERS: It's been a week of extraordinary revelations about who wrote the Bush
                                Administration's Energy Policy.

                                Under a threat of court order, the Energy Department has now released eleven
                                thousand pages of secret documents revealing how the energy industry used its
                                influence to get what the big corporations wanted.

                                Lobbyists for the oil industry, for example, wrote a presidential executive order
                                that President Bush then issued practically verbatim granting the oil companies'
                                wishes.

                                The secret documents also reveal that over a five-month period last year, as the
                                energy policy was being drafted, officials from energy companies were granted
                                unparalleled access.

                                ENRON...AMERICAN COAL...TEXACO...EXXONMOBIL...in all, 109 industry executives,
                                trade association leaders and lobbyists, met privately with Secretary of Energy
                                Spencer Abraham.

                                Abraham met with no environmental or consumer groups.

                                SHARON BUCCINO (SENIOR ATTORNEY FOR THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE
                                COUNCIL): The people who got in to see them are directly, are one in the same
                                the people who contributed to the campaign and helped put the people in those
                                decision making positions.

                                MOYERS: Sharon Buccino is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense
                                Council. It was a lawsuit by NRDC that forced the Energy Department to release
                                the secret documets.

                                BUCCINO: One reason why the Bush administration has resisted providing this
                                information that we've requested is, I think they have to be afraid that it's going
                                to expose the Bush Energy Plan for what it is and that's special favors for special
                                interest.

                                MOYERS: The Bush Energy Plan would provide the oil and gas industries alone
                                with $21 Billion in tax subsidies... and give the automotive industry a seven-year
                                holiday from new fuel efficiency standards.

                                As a whole the energy industry was among the biggest contributors to the
                                Bush/Cheney campaign and to many members of Congress during the last
                                election year.

                                LARRY KLAYMAN (JUDICIAL WATCH): The government has an obligation to let the
                                people know what it's doing behind closed doors.

                                MOYERS: Larry Klayman chairs the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial
                                Watch. He filed suit to obtain the records of secret meetings of the Energy Task
                                Force Chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney.

                                KLAYMAN: The Bush administration was elected and President Bush in particular
                                on a promise that he would be more ethical than President Clinton was during his
                                administration.

                                He is not fulfilling his promise to the American people to let the American people
                                know what government is doing and when he fails to fulfill that promise, it raises
                                an inference that things are being done improperly.

                                MOYERS: Klayman contends that because public policy is involved, the secrecy of
                                those Cheney Task Force meetings was illegal.

                                KLAYMAN: They don't want the American people knowing what they're doing,
                                because it raises more and more questions. The issue is not whether he can do
                                business that way, the issue is whether the law requires him to open it up to the
                                public.

                                MOYERS: Both Judicial Watch and the NRDC told us this week that of the 26,000
                                pages of information requested, the Energy Department has turned over less
                                than half. They also said large portions had been deleted from those documents
                                that were released.

                                KLAYMAN: These companies have lined the pockets of both major political parties
                                and consequently the potential for abuse is great not just in the executive branch
                                but in the legislative branch of government and throughout the governorships of
                                this country. They have bought and paid for energy policy.

                                BUCCINO: I mean it really gets back to the basic principles of democracy. The
                                public deserves to know, has a right to know, who is buying government policy.