Bush-Cheney Energy Plan Misses the Mark on Energy Efficiency, Public Interest Group Says

May 17, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Bush highlights energy efficiency during the release of his new energy plan today, leading energy efficiency experts are finding the Administration's support for energy savings mostly talk and little action. "The Bush-Cheney energy plan contains relatively few concrete proposals that will save energy," stated Howard Geller, former Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). "President Bush has missed a golden opportunity to advance America's cleanest, cheapest, fastest, and least controversial energy source–namely increasing energy efficiency."

Specifically, the Bush-Cheney plan:

  • Does not propose raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on new cars and light trucks, but instead indicates this might be considered at some later date;

  • Does not reverse the rollback of air conditioner standards announced by the Bush Administration last month or propose specific new efficiency standards on other products;

  • Does not provide greater funding for energy efficiency programs conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy but instead maintains the cut in energy efficiency research, development, and deployment programs (apart from grants to low-income households) of $180 million (29%) recommended in the Administration's fiscal year 2002 budget request;

  • Does not include a comprehensive set of tax incentives for energy-efficient technologies including incentives for highly efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, new homes, and commercial buildings; and

  • Does not contain any proposals, such as a national system benefit trust fund, that would help restore funding for energy efficiency programs that have been reduced or eliminated by many states and utilities.

According to Steven Nadel, ACEEE Executive Director, "The Bush-Cheney plan acknowledges the vital role that energy efficiency played over the past 25 years and it includes a few specific proposals that will improve energy efficiency. Tax incentives for energy-efficient hybrid and fuel cell vehicles are very helpful, as is the proposed tax change for combined heat and power systems. But the plan fails to advance a complete set of policies needed to stimulate cost-effective efficiency improvements throughout the economy. If the plan included a full set of energy efficiency initiatives, we would not need to drill for oil in environmentally sensitive areas or build hundreds of new coal-fired or nuclear power plants."

Geller added, "The plan clearly undervalues the role that energy efficiency can and should play. Increasing energy efficiency could do more to help consumers and businesses lower their energy bills than anything in the Bush-Cheney plan. Increasing energy efficiency also could do more to lower oil imports, reduce the risk of power shortages in the short run, and decrease pollutant emissions. And the policies needed to increase energy efficiency - tougher efficiency standards; financial incentives for those purchasing energy-efficient products; and expanded research, development, and deployment programs - are strongly supported by the public, unlike drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas or building new coal-fired and nuclear power plants."

ACEEE's policy recommendations were requested by the Cheney task force but were largely ignored. But many of these recommendations are reflected in bills already introduced in the Congress. Our recommendations, testimony, and fact sheets are available on ACEEE's web site www.aceee.org. Also, ACEEE is a member of the Sustainable Energy Coalition which has produced a scorecard rating the Bush/Cheney plan on policies that would advance energy efficiency and renewable energy. The scorecard is available at http://www.sustainableenergy.org/bush_report/scorecard.PDF.