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Fueling The Energy Debate

Former Energy Secretary/Tufts alum says Bush's energy policy misses the mark.

Boston [05.07.01] As the Bush administration continues to refine its energy and environmental policies, the debate over drilling, fuel efficiency, environmental protection and the future of the country's energy supply is building steam. On Sunday, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Tufts graduate Bill Richardson said the country's energy problems are not as concerning as Bush's policies to solve them.

"The Bush administration's energy policy, centered primarily on increasing the supply of oil, coal and nuclear power, is shortsighted and misaimed, focusing too much on the wrong fuels and too firmly on supply," Richardson wrote in a New York Times opinion piece.

The 1970 Tufts graduate criticized George Bush's plans to drill for oil in environmentally sensitive areas as well as his recent changes to U.S. environmental policy.

Despite recent statements by Bush and Dick Cheney, Richardson said coal, oil and nuclear power are not the solution to the country's energy crisis.

"Coal is an abundant energy source," Richardson wrote in the Times. "But it should not be the fuel of choice for power plants, as President Bush signaled it would be when he rescinded a campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions."

Nuclear power carries even greater environmental risks, wrote the 1970 Tufts graduate. Until the debate over nuclear waste disposal is answered scientifically, Richardson said the energy source should be avoided.

Instead, Richardson said Bush and the U.S, should focus on natural gas -- a more "environmentally friendly" fuel. But over 300,000 miles of gas transmission and distribution lines will need to be built.

"All Americans should support construction of the proposed transcontinental natural gas pipeline, following the most economical route from Alaska's North Slope to the lower 48 states," he wrote.

Regardless of the source, Richardson said the Bush administration must hold environmental concerns as a top priority.

While he credited the Bush administration for pledging to cut the government's energy consumption, Richardson criticized several funding cuts to energy efficiency programs in both the Energy Department and among automakers.

Good energy policy, said Richardson, requires balance.

"It is important to the nation's future that we take a bipartisan and balanced approach to energy policy," Richardson wrote in the New York Times. "Everyone needs to recognize that energy and environmental policy are two sides of the same coin."

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