Statement on the National Energy Security Policy Act of 2001

Washington, DC, February 26, 2001 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute commends Senator Frank Murkowski for introducing the National Energy Security Policy Act of 2001. We hope that it, together with the Bush Administration’s energy plan, will begin a debate that is long overdue. For eight years, the previous administration consistently pursued policies designed to lower energy production, constrict supplies, and raise prices. This never-articulated aim of raising energy prices in order to force people to consume less energy is finally being realized.

While this may be a welcome outcome for supporters of the Kyoto global warming treaty, it is contributing to the current economic slowdown and turning into a nightmare for many American consumers. There are now frequent news reports of people in colder regions of the country being forced by skyrocketing heating costs to choose between staying warm and eating regularly.

The National Energy Security Policy Act will not solve the problems created by the energy-suppression policies of the past eight years overnight. We may still be in for several tough years of shortages and high prices. But if enacted, it will help to re-establish the economic and regulatory conditions necessary for America’s energy industries to provide Americans with the inexpensive, abundant, and reliable energy upon which our prosperity is based. There is no doubt that our energy-producing companies can supply the energy. They only need government to allow them to do so by removing the bottlenecks and disincentives created by government policies.

Specifically, the National Energy Security Policy Act will do that by making it possible once again to build needed refineries, pipelines, transmission lines, and power plants. It will also allow environmentally-responsible oil and gas exploration and production in federal areas closed by the previous administration. It is true, as the anti-energy zealots proclaim, that it may take a decade for the oil to start flowing from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and therefore opening ANWR won’t help solve our current problems. But we are still a decade away because that was also their argument five years ago when the bill to open a tiny part of the nineteen million acre refuge to exploration was vetoed.

Powerful forces have worked mightily to shame people into believing that consuming energy is bad, and that Americans should therefore feel guilty about consuming so much. As the American people are finding out in the current crisis, affordable energy is one of the foundations of our prosperity and our standard of living. We now have a stark choice. We can continue with current policies that will force more and more people to travel less often, stay cold in winter and hot in summer, and turn off the lights. Or we can return to policies that promote energy abundance. CEI is proud to join Senator Murkowski in pursuing that brighter path.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, associate director of media relations, at [email protected] or 202-331-1010, ext. 266.