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Report: Cheney's energy policy was crafted long before becoming VP

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2004 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Recently discovered documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) shed light on the process by which the Bush administration formulated its energy policy, a process shrouded in secrecy and controlled by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The new documents obtained by the CPI reveal that, while CEO of Halliburton during the 1990s, Dick Cheney and many of the Bush Administration's largest political fundraisers were members of the National Petroleum Council (NPC), a privately funded committee founded by President Truman to advise the Secretary of Energy on energy issues. It turns out that the policies Cheney helped formulate for the NPC during the 1990s had become the blueprint for his notoriously-secret and influential White House energy task force. The task force formulated President Bush's energy policy and was widely criticized for pandering to energy companies. The policy was later written into legislation that became law in 2005.

Members of the NPC include academics, oil and gas company representatives and -- ostensibly - environmental groups. But, according to the documents obtained by the CPI, 45 people attended NPC committee meetings from 1999 to 2004 and the vast majority of attendees were oil and gas executives. None were from environmental organizations. Critics complain that environmental organizations were also excluded from the vice president's energy task force.

During the 1990s, Cheney, Don Evans (who would later become Commerce Secretary for President Bush) and the now-indicted former Enron CEO Ken Lay were all members of the Natural Gas committee within the NPC. Ken Lay "was essentially the group's treasurer," says the CPI report. "NPC members have given generously to political campaigns, four-fifths of that money has been funneled to Republican candidates," the CPI reported. One member of the NPC, Ray Hunt, is the CEO of Hunt Oil and sits on Halliburton's board of directors. He was a Bush pioneer in 2000 and serves on the board of directors for the American Petroleum Institute.

Moreover, the CPI found that during the Clinton administration the NPC pushed hard for legislation that would have forbid the government from releasing documents that divulge information about energy companies. The NPC's unprecedented proposal was never enacted into law but would have exempted energy companies from the Freedom of Information Act, a law used by reporters and citizens to gain access to internal government documents. The CPI said, "As head of the committee, Cheney pushed hard to convince the federal government to exempt information it collected from energy companies from the Freedom of Information Act." Cheney's fear of public disclosure is consistent with his insistence as vice president for total secrecy regarding his official meetings with energy industry representatives. He continues to refuse public requests to release documents on meetings that took place between his energy task force and representatives of the energy industry.

Furthermore, the documents obtained by the CPI reveal that a retired general of the Army, Charles Domini, who is today Halliburton's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill, in 2001 said "Clearly, [the] Freedom of Information issues have got to be addressed, and there's got to be absolute protection for the private sector as we go forward with this." Halliburton is clearly afraid of how the public perceives its business activities.

The CPI also reported that another NPC proposal helped open up federal lands for oil and gas use in the Rocky Mountains, including Cheney's home state of Wyoming. Halliburton continues to seek more favors from the government, including an exemption from regulations that govern one of its most lucrative and environmentally damaging oil drilling processes.

The CPI's report is another piece of the puzzle confirming the unprecedented influence of America's energy companies over energy policy and their hysterical fear of public disclosure and the democratic process.

For more information, read the CPI's report entitled "A Pipeline of Influence: Even before he became VP, Dick Cheney and Bush fundraisers were crafting national energy policy."