This week, Vice-president Cheney will unveil the Bush administration's first energy policy. Statements by the President, Cheney, and the White House indicate it will emphasize increased domestic production and exploration as well as expanding refining, pipeline, and transmission capabilities. The plan will favor further funds for clean-burning coal and the development of nuclear power. It will also call for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the Great Lakes region. Many environmentalists are concerned that conservation is not a significant part of the plan, nor are alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind. Cheney's comments last week that conservation would not suffice drew fire from critics who perceive the administration to be heavily consumption-based in their energy philosophy and possibly motivated by their own longstanding ties to big oil. (Cheney reportedly bristles at such conclusions.) One thing is for certain: the plan is focused on the long-term, and the White House itself admits that the policies may do little this summer to ease rising gas prices at the pump or address California's electric crisis. More immediate responses to what the administration is calling "an energy crisis," such as price fixing or attempting to pressure OPEC prices downward, have been nixed by Cheney as not providing a long-term solution. Commentators, however, are wondering how much political capital the administration is prepared to spend if their solutions remain as unpopular with the public in practice as they are right now in the polls. Indeed, Bush's approval rating made its first real dip during his tenure this week on the heels of the administration's advance press on his energy solutions.
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