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Conservative Coalition Forms To Provide Offensive Firepower To Bush Energy Strategy

on 5/30/01.

A group of conservative organizations will announce early this afternoon that they are forming a coalition - the 21st Century Energy Project (21CEP) -- to engage liberal opponents of President Bush's energy strategy. The coalition will be led by Ed Gillespie of Quinn Gillespie, who told the Bulletin that the aim of the coalition is to "provide some counterbalance to the liberal assault" on the President's energy strategy. Among coalition members are the 60 Plus Association, American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Frontiers of Freedom, National Center for Policy Analysis, National Center for Public Policy Research, The Seniors Coalition, and the United Seniors Association. The formation of the coalition outside the White House comes after some inside the White House acknowledge the in-house rollout of the Bush energy strategy was mismanaged. In prepared remarks, Gillespie is expected to say this afternoon, "Often flying under the false banner of environmental protection or conservation, groups like the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council -- not to mention Greenpeace -- have become little more than outside resources for the Democratic National Committee. They were poised to echo the attacks of the DNC and congressional Democrats they supported in the last campaign weeks before the Bush Administration even unveiled its energy initiative. Ultimately, 40 of the plan's 105 recommendations ended up focusing on increasing conservation, but they did not let that fact change their plan." Gillespie continues, "They reflexively oppose any plan that would increase traditional forms of energy production as a means by which to restore the imbalance between our nation's demand for energy and its supply. They do so in the most cynical political fashion, branding every abundant and affordable source of energy as a threat to clean air or clean water in order to frighten policy makers by frightening suburban women swing voters. Rarely do these groups acknowledge -- nor are they asked -- how they would meet the demand necessary for Americans to maintain higher standards of living over the next 20 years in the absence of greater domestic production. The answer is that they would not. They would instead reduce demand by government fiat." The coalition has assembled a $1 million ad budget and fired its first shot today with an ad in the Fresno Bee, coinciding with President Bush's trip to that area of California today. Drawing a connection between the current Democratic stance on energy today and President Jimmy Carter's plan during the 1970s, the ad says, "Two decades ago, over-dependence on foreign oil created a shortage and drove prices up. The solution was rationing. It was a bad idea. Today, we are again becoming too dependent on foreign oil when demand for oil and electricity consumption is increasing. This is simple Economics 101: when demand increases faster than supply, prices go up. Liberal groups and some politicians believe rationing, price caps, higher taxes and excessive regulations will solve the problem. We disagree. Their policies will only decrease supply and further increase prices. That hurts lower and middle class families the most. In fact, if some on the left have their way, 'soccer moms' will be forced to sell their mini-vans - they'll become a luxury only the elite can afford." While 21CEP has no direct connection to the White House, they intend to adopt a grassroots strategy similar to what President Bush engaged in to sell his tax plan. Acknowledging the Democratic Senate will provide a roadblock to enacting elements of the Bush plan, Gillespie noted the President's tax cut tour - in which he visited GOP-leaning states with Democratic senators -- was an element of a strategy that ultimately delivered 12 Democratic votes for his tax plan.