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Someone should turn this into a dramatic thriller,

because I'm just dying to know how this one turns out ...

Cheney Energy Task Force

The National Energy Policy Development Group was a group, created by Executive Order on January 29, 2001, that was chaired by Vice President Richard Cheney. The group, commonly referred to as the "Cheney Energy Task Force," produced a National Energy Policy report in May 2001. [1] In a cover note to George W. Bush, Cheney wrote that "we have developed a national energy policy designed to help bring together business, government, local communities and citizens to promote dependable, affordable and environmentally sound energy for the future." [2]

In April 2001, the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, sought to obtain the records of the task force meetings. [3] In July 2001 Judicial Watch filed suit on the grounds that the administration was not "in compliance with the Federal Advisory Commission Act (FACA), which mandates that certain documents, task force members, meetings, and decision-making activities be open to the public." [4] Judicial Watch argued that the acting as energy lobbyists -- "regularly attended and fully participated" in the group's meetings held behind closed doors, and were in fact members of the group. The Sierra Club also filed suit. (The two actions were later merged.) "At issue is whether Cheney allowed private energy lobbyists and big-name campaign contributors to participate in the work of the group, and if so, whether that information should be made public," UPI reported. [5]

Initially, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, tried to make the records of the policy group public. When its legal action failed, the GAO dropped the attempt.

However, a Washington-based legal advocacy group, Judicial Watch, continued its own suit in federal court against the policy group, its members and several private individuals, alleging that the defendants had failed to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

The Department of Justice has four times appealed federal court rulings that the vice president (Dick Cheney) release task force records. That case, in which Cheney claims his office has executive privilege, is now pending before the United States Supreme Court. (See Antonin Scalia.)

Queue the duck hunting music ... (Psst, don't forget the scotch.)

Flash forward, past all those boring court actions ...

Dick Cheney's Last Laugh
by Kate Sheppard, -- Jun. 10, 2010

Here's what we know about the task force and offshore drilling. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, was able to obtain 13,500 pages of heavily redacted documents that gave a glimpse into the role industry leaders played in shaping the administration's policies (NRDC also got a list of the documents (PDF) that the administration refused to turn over). In July 2007, the Washington Post got a list of the roughly 300 groups and individuals who met with task force staffers and, in some cases, Cheney himself.  

BP officials were among those who "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the administration, though when that fact came to light, the company refused to comment on those meetings. We still don't know what specific policy areas BP execs weighed in on.

But we do have a few more details about other oil industry players in the talks. Chevron's CEO contributed a detailed list (PDF) of ways in which the government could "eliminate federal barriers to increased energy supplies"—many of which were incorporated in the task force's final report. This included recommendations to ease federal permitting rules for energy development and a request that the administration support opening up new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil and gas development. Doing so, wrote Chevron CEO David O'Reilly, would "demonstrate a commitment to reject unjustified opposition to new energy leasing and development."

The American Petroleum Institute offered its own long list of suggestions for energy policy. A March 20, 2001, email from API to an official at the Energy Department included a draft Executive Order [13211] calling for all federal agencies to issue a detailed statement on any regulatory action that "adversely affects energy supply, distribution or use." It was nearly identical to the order Bush issued just two months later.

Many of the recommendations from the task force report were adopted in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. That legislation provided $6 Billion in subsidies for oil and gas development. Royalty payments for oil and gas development were waived in several regions of the US. [...]

Executive Order 13211

Actions Concerning Regulations
That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

By the authority vested in me as President by the
Constitution and the laws of the United States of
America, and in order to appropriately weigh and
consider the effects of the Federal Government's
regulations on the supply, distribution, and use of
energy, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. The Federal Government can
significantly affect the supply, distribution, and use of
energy. Yet there is often too little information
regarding the effects that governmental regulatory
can have on energy
. In order to provide more
useful energy-related information and hence improve
the quality of agency decisionmaking, I am requiring
that agencies shall prepare a Statement of Energy
Effects when undertaking certain agency actions. As
described more fully below, such Statements of
Energy Effects
shall describe the effects of certain
regulatory actions on energy supply, distribution, or

George W. Bush

May 18, 2001.

NRDC, who has done much of the day to day detective work, gives this early assessment on the Energy Task Force's wide-reaching impacts ...

Heavily Censored Energy Department Papers Show Industry is the Real Author of Administration's Energy Task Force Report

WASHINGTON (March 27, 2002) -- Despite being heavily censored, the thousands of Department of Energy documents released under court order this week confirm the intimate, secretive relationship between huge, politically connected corporations and the White House energy task force.

"Big energy companies all but held the pencil for the White House task force as government officials wrote a plan calling for billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, and the wholesale elimination of key health and environmental safeguards," said John H. Adams, NRDC president.

NRDC and many others have been critical of the White House energy task force recommendations, charging the plan does almost nothing to free America from its dependence on foreign oil.

The Cheney Energy Task Force
What the Documents Reveal
Before turning over the energy task force records to NRDC, the Bush administration removed extensive portions of information. Some pages were empty. Whole strings of correspondence were stripped to just a few words.

Yet even with this censorship the records reveal that industry lobbyists not only played a pivotal role in developing the administration's national energy strategy, they wrote much of it themselves. The administration sought the advice of polluting corporations early and often and then incorporated their recommendations into its policy, sometimes verbatim.

The following pages, while a tiny sampling of the task force records, illustrate both the influence industry lobbyists wielded and the degree to which the Bush administration continues to try to cloak the task force's proceedings in secrecy.

... and now for your easy-viewing convenience ...

NRDC Presentation of Key Energy Taskforce Documents -- Doc 121

In attachments accompanying this March 2001 email, Jim Ford of the American Petroleum Institute suggests wording for a presidential order giving special consideration to oil companies. In May 2001, President Bush indeed issued an executive order much like API's proposal.

next slide

Who will give us the final assessment on the lasting legacy that this cloak-and-dagger Energy Task Force is still having on our nation ... A lasting legacy brought into existence by the oh-so-privileged actions of Halliburton Representative, Dick Cheney?

Or is that all "ancient history" with no relevance on today's world?

Stay tuned, as the energy soap-opera continues -- right after these important messages from our nation's ever-so-clever sponsors ...

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