Monday, August 25, 2003
Cheney Developed Energy Plan From Industry Plans But Still Refuses To Say How
The White House collaborated heavily with corporations in developing President Bush's energy policy but repeatedly refused to give congressional investigators details of the meetings, according to a federal report issued yesterday.
The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in the report that Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham privately discussed the formulation of Bush's policy "with chief executive officers of petroleum, electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical and natural gas companies, among others."
An energy task force, led by Vice President Cheney, relied for outside advice primarily on "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists," while seeking limited input from academic experts, environmentalists and policy groups, the GAO said.
Among the previously disclosed meetings were private sessions for Kenneth L. Lay, then the chairman of Enron Corp., the Texas energy trading company that collapsed in the nation's largest accounting scandal. Lay was given a 30-minute meeting with Cheney and a conference with a top aide for the task force.
David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO, said in an interview that the standoff over the task force documents called into question the existence of "a reasonable degree of transparency and an appropriate degree of accountability in government."
Walker said the energy investigation was the first instance since he took office in November 1998 in which the GAO was unable to do its job and produce a report according to generally accepted government auditing standards.
"The Congress and the American people had the right to know the limited amount of information we were seeking," Walker said.