New York Times ignored -- again -- expert analysis of Bush energy bill


An August 9 New York Times article by reporter Richard W. Stevenson on President Bush's signing of the 2005 Energy Policy Act reported that the bill "encourages increased domestic oil and gas production" and that Bush said the bill "would give the United States a start on reducing its dependence on foreign oil and help the economy over the long run." But for the second time, the Times omitted the assessment of many energy analysts -- and the acknowledgment of even some conservatives -- that the bill, which Bush signed into law on August 8, will not significantly reduce American dependence on foreign oil.

As Congress moved toward passage of the energy bill in late July, The Washington Post reported that the Department of Energy estimates that the percentage of U.S. oil obtained from abroad will increase from 58 percent to 68 percent by 2025; the report added that "[a]t best, analysts say, the energy legislation would slightly slow that rate of growth of dependence." A July 28 Los Angeles Times article noted Petrie Parkman & Co. analyst Steve Enger's assessment that "[t]he energy bill is not going to make a meaningful difference in U.S. supplies," as well as Energy Security Analysis Inc. senior oil analyst Rick Mueller's belief that "[t]here's very little in the bill" to address the rising demand for oil in the United States. But a July 29 Times article on the bill failed to report these views, as Media Matters for America noted.

While Stevenson did quote Bush acknowledging that the "bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight" and that "it's going to take years of focused effort to alleviate those problems," he omitted more negative statements by Republicans. For example, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that "I predict that if this bill is enacted, gas prices in Arizona will increase and air quality will be impaired because of its ethanol mandates," adding: "The bill does little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and will impose huge new costs on Arizona power consumers because of the bill's national one-size-fits-all renewable portfolio standard." The July 26 Washington Post report quoted Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation and an opponent of the bill, as follows: "We'll be dependent on the global market for more than half our oil for as long as we're using oil, and the energy bill isn't going to change that." He added that the bill "would not do much" to increase domestic production.

In contrast with the Times, an August 9 Washington Post article reported Bush's statements about the bill, but also noted that "independent energy analysts cautioned that with crude oil prices hitting new highs, consumers should not expect the new law to push down gas prices or reduce U.S. reliance on Middle East oil soon, if ever." Similarly, the Associated Press reported on August 8: "President Bush signed a bill that will give billions in tax breaks to encourage homegrown energy production but won't quickly reduce high gasoline prices or the nation's dependence on foreign oil."

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Environment & Science, Energy
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