In Unison Governors Call for Energy Conservationby Staff
Environmental News Network, August 17, 2001
The governors of the 50 states, 3 territories, and 2 commonwealths have adopted a comprehensive national energy policy emphasizing conservation.
At the closing session of the 93rd Annual Meeting of the National Governors Association last week in Providence, R.I., the governors sent a message to the White House that state and local authorities must have input into the nation's energy plans.
"The policy sends a clear message that solving our nation's energy problems demand more conservation, especially utilizing renewable fuels like ethanol," said Iowa Gov. Thomas Vilsack, chairman of the association's Committee on Natural Resources.
Ensuring "environmental quality" comes second in the list of 10 principles embodied in the governors' energy plan. Number one is "adequate, affordable energy supplies and services."
"Our goal should always be to assure American families and businesses their energy prices will be stable," Vilsack said.
The new policy is in direct response to the Bush administration's National Energy Policy issued in May, which emphasizes fossil fuel and nuclear power development and consumption, although some conservation and renewables-friendly measures are included.
The governors' policy recognizes that periodic shortages in oil, gas, and electricity can cause hardship for consumers and businesses. Also, these energy and environmental challenges facing the United States could harm the economy and reduce national security.
"The United States' dependence on foreign sources of oil is at an all-time high while demand for energy continues to rise," said Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, vice chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and past Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
In a bid to secure seats for the governors at the the national energy strategy table, Keating said, "Energy issues must be addressed nationally, but state and local authority over energy and environmental matters also needs to be maintained. It would be a mistake to develop a national energy policy without full cooperation and partnership with the states and their governors."
In his speech accepting the NGA chairmanship for the next year, Michigan Gov. John Engler pledged to make the association "a unified voice for bold action that will return power and authority to the states and local government."
Although energy efficiency is projected to continue to improve, both the governors' policy and that of the Bush administration recognize that demand for energy continues to grow. "Even with more conservation, innovation, and new technology," the governors' resolution states, "the United States will need more energy supplies."
"We must expand and upgrade the transmission networks to move energy from the source to the consumer," said North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven. "Improving energy transmission will impact conservation, efficiency, and supply."
Hoeven urged the Environmental Protection Agency to provide flexibility in meeting standards and requirements to encourage use of "innovative strategies in providing energy solutions."
The National Governors Association, founded in 1908, is the body through which the nation's governors collectively influence the development and implementation of national policy and confer on direction of state issues.
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