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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d91apr71

After over a year of hearings, discussion, and lately controversy, the Department of Energy released its National Energy Strategy on Feb. 20, 1991. (See Reports/National Energy Strategy, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Apr. 1991.) In the Department's view, it represents a balanced program of greater energy efficiency, use of alternative fuels, and the environmentally responsible development of all U.S. energy resources. To its critics in Congress and in the environmental lobby, it emphasizes increased energy production while slighting efforts to reduce demand, increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Much of this emphasis was added by White House advisors a few months prior to the plan's release.

The strategy exploits market forces and other inducements to achieve its goals, rather than "command-and-control" approaches such as energy taxes and regulations. For example, proposals for increasing energy and economic efficiency include research and development of industrial process efficiency; expansion of state and utility energy audit programs; promotion of non-federal programs that would offer "bounties" on older, inefficient cars; and tax and other incentives for mass transport and ride-sharing. The safety, economic and other implications of corporate automobile fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, which have recently been debated in Congress, are to be studied. The largest portion of the strategy concerns increasing supplies of energy, by encouraging clean coal technologies and nuclear power, increased oil drilling, and developing renewable energy sources.

Roughly one fourth of the proposals require Congressional legislation, which was introduced March 4 in the House and Senate. Several Democrats have introduced competing legislation with greater emphasis on energy conservation. A coalition of environmental groups released an alternative renewable energy budget, which calls for $462 million in 1992, almost three times the Administration's request. (See Reports/National Energy Strategy, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Apr. 1991 for this and other related publications.)

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