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E-M:/ Dingell, Levin release GAO report on Cheney Energy Task Force




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                           For more information, contact:
August 25, 2003                                         Karen Lightfoot (Rep.
Waxman): (202) 225-5051
                                                                Sari Levy (Sen.
Lieberman): (202) 224-6848
                                                               Barry Piatt (Sen.
Dorgan): (202) 224-1191



Final GAO Report on Cheney Energy Task Force Released

WASHINGTON - Reps. Henry A. Waxman and John D. Dingell and Sens. Joseph I.
Lieberman, Ernest F. Hollings, Carl Levin, and Byron L. Dorgan today released
GAO's final report on the operations of Vice President Cheney's Energy Task
Force.

The GAO report details the refusal of the White House to provide GAO even basic
information about the operations of the task force.  As a consequence, GAO was
unable to fulfill the members' request to identify the outside parties that met
with the task force.  GAO also could not describe the extent to which powerful
energy industry interests may have influenced the recommendations to the
President.

GAO concludes:  "The extent to which submissions from any of [the] stakeholders
were solicited, influenced policy deliberations, or were incorporated into the
final report cannot be determined based on the limited information made
available to GAO....  The Office of the Vice President's unwillingness to
provide the NEPDG records or other related information precluded GAO from fully
achieving its objectives and substantially limited GAO's ability to
comprehensively analyze the NEPDG process."

 "The Bush Administration is obsessed with secrecy.  This is profoundly
unhealthy to our democracy," said Rep. Waxman.  "The result is not just bad
decisions on energy, but a rejection of the principles of open government and
public accountability."

Rep. Dingell commented, "The GAO should have been allowed to conduct a thorough
investigation in an open and fair fashion. This report is a sad chronicle of the
efforts of the Office of Vice President to hide its activities from the American
people. Whether it was embarrassment over the number of meetings with campaign
contributors, or a misguided policy of secrecy, we do not know. But we should
not be surprised that the energy plan was so weighted on behalf of those who had
special access."

"The American people deserve to know what role the energy companies and other
special interests played in the development of the National Energy Policy," Sen.
Lieberman said. "But as this report by GAO demonstrates, they will never know
the full truth because the White House chose to stonewall instead of cooperate
with investigators."

Sen. Byron Dorgan said, "The best government is an open government in which the
American people are able to see what policy makers are doing and have the
opportunity to participate in their decision making. Clearly, the operation of
this task force, and the administration's response - or lack of response -- to
the GAO's inquiries, flies in the face of good government."

For additional background, including a detailed chronology of GAO's efforts to
obtain task force records and the White House's efforts to frustrate GAO, see:
www.house.gov/reform/min/inves_energy/energy_cheney.htm.


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