WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney, answering environmentalists and other critics of his energy report, said Tuesday anyone who argues it neglects conservation “simply hasn’t read the report.”
Cheney, addressing a nuclear power industry conference, said more than half the 105 recommendations and most of the financial incentives in the energy plan involve conservation and renewable energy sources.
“There’s been a lot of talk from some of our critics that somehow the only focus is on additional supplies. ... That’s simply not true,” declared Cheney.
“Anybody who says that simply hasn’t read the report,” he continued.
Cheney said the upcoming debate on energy will involve “a fundamental set of decisions that are going to determine the quality of life for our kids and grandkids for years to come.
“These are difficult challenges,” he said, but President Bush “didn’t come to town to duck tough issues.”
Congressional Democrats and a broad cross-section of environmental leaders have sharply criticized the Bush administration’s energy plan as too heavily tilted toward boosting coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy development.
“The plan is built on the misguided notion that we can dig and drill our way out of the current energy challenges,” said Daniel Reicher, who was assistant energy secretary for renewable and efficiency programs in the Clinton administration.
Echoing the views of many environmentalists, Reicher, now at the World Resources Institute, said the Bush plan has “no aggressive commitment to energy efficiency and cleaner sources of renewable energy.”
Cheney maintained that if the recommendations of his energy task force, including 20 involving congressional action, are adopted, “We assure very significant savings from conservation.”
He added, “the bottom line is we still have inadequate supplies” and will have to develop more coal, gas and nuclear energy to meet future electricity needs.
Cheney reiterated his support for nuclear power at the conference, sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade group.
Currently about a fifth of the electricity in the United States comes from nuclear reactors. Cheney said that portion will decline if it isn’t made easier to relicense current reactors and build new ones.
“We want to encourage investment in nuclear power,” said Cheney.