From: David Ivanovich, Houston Chronicle
Published December 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Energy Experts Suggest New Guidelines on Mileage, Greenhouse Gases

Dec. 8—WASHINGTON — Hoping to break the national impasse over energy, a panel of experts today will call for limits

on greenhouse gas emissions, tougher car mileage rules and a financial safety net for companies building a gas pipeline from


With the energy bill all but dead and lawmakers bracing for another bitter, highly partisan battle in the next session of

Congress, a group calling itself the National Commission on Energy Policy will unveil its prescription for improving the

nation's energy security while reducing the threat of climate change.

"What we believe we have crafted here is a fully integrated set of supply and demand recommendations," said William Reilly, a

former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and co-chair of the panel of environmentalists, energy industry

executives, academics and former government staffers.

In a report titled "Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges," the group called

for a mandatory program to reduce releases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global


Perhaps its most controversial recommendation — the group already has heard disapproval from the White House — would

limit the amount of greenhouse gases a particular site would be permitted to emit.

Any operation that exceeded its limits would be able to buy emission credits from another operation. But if a facility could

not find enough credits to buy, it would have to ratchet back those emissions or pay the federal government $7 for every

metric ton over its limit.

The Bush administration favors voluntary programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It has opposed the Kyoto Accord, which

sets ceilings by country on carbon dioxide output. The administration says the pact is unfair because it would set strict

limits on emissions from the United States and other industrialized nations that don't apply to countries like China and


In response to concerns that developing nations will not follow the U.S. lead, the panel would halt the greenhouse gas

emissions rules by 2015 if major trading partners failed to implement similar programs.

Among the panel's members were former ConocoPhillips Chairman Archie Dunham and Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.

Dunham said he was a reluctant at first "because I felt it was dominated by people who historically have been unfriendly to

the energy industry."

Dunham eventually agreed to participate and is pleased with the panel's efforts.

"I think it's very balanced," he said.

Ellis could not be reached Tuesday for an interview. In a prepared statement, he noted, "As a state legislator, I hear the

frustration people feel over high energy prices. My constituents are also concerned about our nation's dependence on oil and

environmental degradation. These recommendations strike a careful balance between increasing energy supply and environmental


The panel also called for stiffer fuel efficiency requirements for cars and trucks, to help reduce the nation's petroleum


The group also proposed helping energy companies build a $20 billion pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the lower

48 states, by shielding the investors if gas prices were to plunge during construction.

The panel did not touch one of the most contentious issues on Capitol Hill: proposals to drill in Alaska's Arctic National

Wildlife Refuge.

The commission is not an official government panel.

The two-year study was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the John D. and

Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Energy Foundation.

Critics Tuesday were already challenging the panel's claim to be a bipartisan group of energy experts.

"This is a self-styled 'national commission' that's really promoting special interests," said Iain Murray with the

conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. "This is essentially global warming policy masquerading as energy policy."

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