Releases National Energy Policy
Executive Orders Charge Federal
Agencies with Energy-Related Duties
M. Fletcher, J.D., LL.M.
Yoshiyuki Takamatsu, 2L
In May 2001, the Bush Administration released the National Energy
Policy and two executive orders revealing the administrations
priorities in energy development for the nation. Citing a domestic
energy crisis defined by a fundamental imbalance between
supply and demand, the Policy declares that this imbalance
will inevitably undermine our economy, our standard of
living, and our national security.
1 The Policy
consists of the findings and recommendations made by the National
Energy Policy Development Group established by the President
in his second week in office. The two Executive Orders that
followed the Policy are aimed at assessing the effects of federal
regulations on energy-related projects and at accelerating the
completion of those projects. While the Administration refers
to the Policy as a long-term, comprehensive strategy, it has
been criticized for its emphasis on increased fossil fuel and
nuclear power development with little focus on energy conservation
The National Energy Policy consists of eight chapters (see summary,
page 3) which focus on encouraging energy infrastructure modernization
by reducing regulatory hurdles. The Plan also proposes to reduce
dependence on foreign energy sources by increasing exploration
and production of domestic energy sources, including oil, natural
gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy. Asserting the efficiency
and environmental compatibility of modern drilling technologies,
the Policy calls for oil and natural gas development on federally
owned lands, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
The National Energy Policy Development Group, comprised primarily
of Cabinet members, recommended that President Bush issue two
executive orders to expedite the Policy suggestions. Shortly
after the release of the Energy Policy, Bush issued Executive
Order 13211 which requires federal agencies to submit a detailed
Statement of Energy Effects when they undertake
significant energy actions.
2 This statement
must consist of an agencys determination of (1) expected
adverse effects on energy supply, distribution, or use when
a proposed rule or regulation is implemented, and (2) reasonable
alternatives to the action and the effects of these alternatives.
A federal action is considered significant, and therefore must
be accompanied by the statement of energy effects, when it may
lead to a rule or regulation that may have material effects
to the economy and society and is likely to have a significant
adverse effect on energy, or is a federal action that is specifically
designated as significant.
Executive Order 13212 proposes to expedite the increased supply
and availability of energy to the Nation by requiring executive
departments and agencies to speed up their review of permits
or take necessary actions to accelerate the completion of energy-related
projects that will increase the production, transmission, or
conservation of energy.
3 The Order establishes
an interagency Task Force to ensure federal agencies set up
appropriate mechanisms (e.g., by standardizing certain information
needs, sharing information received, and integrating required
processes and reviews) to coordinate federal, State, tribal,
and local permitting activity in regions where increased activity
is expected. The Department of Energy will administer the Task
The Energy Policy has been largely criticized because of its
emphasis on the domestic energy development and its potential
adverse effects to the environment, and its recommendations
are resulting in congressional dissatisfaction. In June and
July, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives went
on record opposing drilling off the Florida coast and new oil,
gas and coal exploration in millions of acres of national monuments,
crimping President Bushs efforts to increase U.S. oil
4 The measure was an amendment to an
Interior Department spending bill and will postpone new leasing
arrangements for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico until
April 1, 2002. At press time, the hotly contested Lease Sale
181 in the Gulf of Mexico had been reduced from 6 million acres
to 1.5, removing tracts that came as close as 17 miles to Pensacola,
Florida. The Senate is considering blocking the sale for a year
which would allow for further negotiation. Water Log will cover
the upcoming energy debate in the Gulf of Mexico in future issues.
1. National Energy Policy Development Group, National Energy
Policy, at viii (2001) (available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/).
2. Exec. Order No. 13,211, 66 Fed. Reg. 28,355 (May 22, 2001).
3. Exec. Order No. 13,212, 66 Fed. Reg. 28,357 (May 22, 2001).
4. H. Res. 174, 104th Cong. (2001).