Bush energy plan documents released at eleventh hour

US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham developed President George W Bush’s much criticised energy plan through consultations only with oil, gas, coal and nuclear interests, most of whom were contributors to the Republican Party. Documents relating to the development of the plan were released only hours before a deadline set by a court order, reports The Washington Post.

The documents have finally been released, following 11 months of resistance by the Bush administration to lawsuits by public interest groups wishing to know who influenced the new energy plan (see related story). They reveal that Abraham held no meetings with conservation or consumer groups, despite a recent claim by the Energy Department that officials had tried doggedly to get the views of green groups, but environmentalists had been uncooperative. On the other hand, environmental groups claim that their efforts to meet with the energy task force were rebuffed.

Abraham met with 36 representatives of energy industry companies. A dozen of the companies had contributed US$1.2 million to the Republican Party, mainly for Bush’s election, ten of which gave more money to the Republicans than to the Democrats.

However, large portions of the released documents had been deleted, most attachments were missing, and in many cases documents were withheld except for the subject line, reports The Washington Post. Thousands of other documents were withheld entirely. The groups that won the release of these documents through lawsuits have said that they may return to court.

Nevertheless, the documents showed that there were positive aspects to the consultations. One of the items released is a letter from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers favouring tax credits for hybrid-fuel and fuel-cell vehicles and similar incentives for fuel efficiency, which were included in the Bush energy policy.

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