Free Market to the Rescue

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Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 06:39:29 PDT

The Washington Post [ ] and Los
Angeles Times [ ] lead with President
Bush's preview of his forthcoming energy policy. During his
Saturday radio address, the President paired his longstanding
commitment to trimming government regulation with a newfound
vision of "21st century conservation." Bush downplayed the
need for personal sacrifice and instead stressed innovation,
stating "the most effective way to conserve energy is by
using energy more efficiently." A different slant on the same
issue captures the New York Times [ ]
lead, which reports that soaring energy costs have encouraged
power companies to invest massively to increase output.

Both the LAT and WP connect Bush's emphasis on conservation to
his vulnerable poll numbers on the environment. According to
the LAT, the Bush program offers tax incentives and credits
to shift towards more efficient sources of energy. The WP
eyes the rhetoric cynically, noting that the energy plan,
which will be formally announced Thursday, has already
secured the enthusiastic support of the lobbying group that
represents utilities, appliance manufacturers, and the
automobile industry. The paper argues that the plan "could
have longer lasting effects on business than his tax cut."
Both papers note the change in tone from Vice President Dick
Cheney's recent remark that conversation is "not a sufficient
basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."

According to the NYT lead, the increased investment in energy
by the private sector would make Bush's drastic changes in
government policy unnecessary. With pipelines and new plants
being built at "record pace," experts tell the NYT that the
market is solving the problem on its own. Prices, they
predict, will begin to fall as the level of production and
competition among power companies increases. Moreover, the
same experts caution that relaxing environmental regulations
will do little to alter the basic supply and demand forces at
work. Such regulation, claims the NYT, should more rightly be
thought of as a "nuisance" than a fundamental barrier
limiting production.

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