- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Vice President Dick Cheney announced this week that the administration would actively promote exploration and development to address the countrys energy needs. He specifically referenced the need to expand the nations oil, coal and natural gas industries as well as the need to promote nuclear power, which has remained in near stasis since the 1970s thanks to hysteria ginned-up by environmental and leftist extremists. "The potential crisis we face is largely the result of short-sighted domestic polices or, as in recent years, no policy at all," Mr. Cheney told reporters and editors attending a conference of the Associated Press in Toronto. "As a country, we have demanded more and more energy, but we have not brought online the supplies needed to meet that demand," he added.
Among the specific goals listed by Mr. Cheney are the building of some 1,300 to 1,900 new power plants over the next 20 years to address existing and projected demands for electricity, and the ecologically safe development of the vast oil reserves located underground in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Bush administration has been the object of criticism by the same radical environmental and leftist groups that oppose nuclear power for its advocacy of tapping the oil reserves in ANWR. But these criticisms are not based on genuine public safety or environmental grounds. Rather they are based on a general opposition to energy development. For example, the National Environmental Trust, a left-leaning environmental group, described the administrations altogether reasonable and responsible proposals as "an across the board attack on the environment."
But energy exploration and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive, and nuclear power, as Mr. Cheney correctly observed, is "one of the cleanest methods of power generation that we know" as well as one of the safest. "If were serious about environmental protection," Mr. Cheney said, "then we must seriously question the wisdom of backing away from what is, as a matter of record, a safe, clean and very plentiful energy source."
Its heartening to hear such thoughtful policy statements from an administration, and if cooler and wiser heads prevail, Americans may soon have an energy policy rather than energy shortages. That would be welcome news, indeed.


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