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BY Suzanne Struglinski
by Suzanne Struglinski on 5/31/01.

Several conservative groups launched the "21st Century Energy Project" Wednesday with aims to run ads to attack liberal criticisms of the Bush administration's proposed national energy policy. The group released a print and radio ad at a press conference to "counter balance the scathing, misleading assault" on the Bush plan from environmental organizations.

"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," said Ed Gillespie, the project's director. "The answer is that they would not. They would instead reduce demand by government fiat."

The ads refer to the 1970s: "Gas lines were long, rationing was in, Jimmy Carter was president and he told us to wear a sweater." Gillespie said the specific places where they will run the ads have not been determined.

"Liberal groups and some politicians believe rationing, price caps and higher taxes and excessive regulations will solve the problem. We disagree," the ad reads. "A balance between conservation and increased supply is the only solution."

The project consists of Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservation Union, the 60-Plus Association, the United Seniors Association, the Seniors Coalition, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Frontiers of Freedom, National Center for Policy Analysis and the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The Bush administration released 105 recommendations for forming national energy policy earlier this month. Critics of the plan point to its call for more production of coal and fossil fuels versus more environmentally friendly measures, such as conservation or efficiency programs.

The new organization contends that environmental and conservation groups have become little more than outside resources for the Democratic National Committee.

"They believe oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy are inherently bad and that working Americans are the problem here because we use too much of it," Gillespie said. "Theirs is a world view of scarcity, where innovations in clean coal technology, precision drilling and advancements in nuclear energy and safety simply never happened."

Elliott Negin, spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the idea that environmental groups only work with Democrats is "flatly wrong" and "ludicrous." He pointed out that they work with Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y) and other Republicans "who still care about the environment." He also said that the new administration is indebted to the coal and oil industry for their help in last year's campaign.