Then. May 19, 2001, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Cheney also defended a speech he gave in Toronto on April 30 in which he said, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound comprehensive energy policy."
That and other comments were widely perceived as dismissive of conservation. Cheney said critics were quoting him selectively.
"I said conservation was important. But I said it was not sufficient, in and of itself, to constitute an energy policy. And I think that's a valid point. I still think it's a valid point," he said.
"Sometimes in the past, the notion has been abroad in the land that we can conserve our way out of the problem. And, again, to come back to California, I don't think you can," he said.
...But Cheney made it clear that using the bully pulpit to encourage Americans to consume less energy was not a big part of the White House strategy.
"You can do a certain amount of that, but that's not a substitute for good policy," said Cheney. "I think they ought to be able to make that decision for themselves, as individuals. And different people have different interests and different value systems."
Cheney also rejected a series of options that he said were "Band-Aids," symbolic or self-defeating. Among them: price caps on electricity out West and tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as former President Clinton did.
As Cheney said in Toronto on April 30 (reported in the May 1 Boston Globe):
"Some groups are suggesting that government step in to force Americans to consume less energy, as if we could simply conserve or ration our way out of the situation we're in," Cheney said.
But, he continued: "To speak exclusively of conservation is to duck the tough issues. Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy."
One of the reasons -- and there are several, interlocking causes -- we are seeing gas at $3 a gallon and higher is that the administration has done nothing to promote energy conservation. Instead of raising CAFE standards or requiring any efficiency standards for the largest SUVs, the Bush administration focused on ANWR and nuclear power.
And today is more of the same. Bush offers marginally cheaper gas, but only at the cost of higher pollution:
He directed the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend federal clean-burning gasoline rules this summer that are forcing consumers to buy expensive new gasoline blends.
Bush temporarily halted shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a way to get more oil on the market and try to combat prices that have soared above $3 a gallon.
Please pretend not to notice that the administration is deploying Cheney's symbolic band-aid -- using oil from the SPR to moderate prices. (For a second time.)
There are no short-term solutions or easy fixes to our energy problems. If we had done nothing about energy the last 5 years we'd be in a better position than we are today, thanks to the Bush administration's misguided energy policy.