President George W. Bush meets with labor leaders to discuss America's energy policy at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquarters in Washington, D.C., Jan. 17, 2002. From left to right, sitting with the President are Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, President of the Teamsters union James P. Hoffa, President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Doug McCarron and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. "Together we can show the country that when we work together, we can do what's right, do what's right for the working folks," said the President in his remarks. White House photo by Eric Draper. See President Bush's full remarks at:
Thursday January 17 5:17 PM ET
Bush Enlists U.S. Unions in Push for Energy Plan
By Patricia Wilson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush enlisted labor leaders on Thursday to press Democratic allies in the Senate to approve oil drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge, saying his energy plan would create jobs.
Proving that politics sometimes does make strange bedfellows, the Republican president received a warm welcome at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the 1.4 million-strong Teamsters Union, which supports his proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to exploration.
``I've been practicing the Heimlich maneuver all week long in case anything goes wrong,'' joked Teamsters' leader James Hoffa in a reference to Bush's run-in with a pretzel on Sunday when he fainted after swallowing the snack the wrong way.
Bush courted Hoffa's support in the 2000 election, but he and other union leaders stuck with tradition and threw their wholehearted support behind Bush's Democratic opponent, Al Gore.
With U.S. unemployment rising and the economy in recession, the Teamsters and several other unions, believing that Bush's plan will create jobs, intensely lobbied lawmakers in the House of Representatives, which last year passed the White House proposals -- including oil exploration in the Alaskan reserve.
Drilling in ANWR is a key element of the White House plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, which accounts for about 60 percent of the nation's petroleum supplies.
The refuge on Alaska's northern coast is home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife. Many Americans want its pristine wilderness preserved.
AT TOP OF SENATE AGENDA
Geologists believe as much as 16 billion barrels of crude oil could be extracted from the area, although production could take seven to 10 years.
``This energy bill we're working on is a jobs bill,'' Bush told about a dozen union leaders at the start of a round-table discussion. ``That's why we're linked up on this issue.''
Energy legislation will be at the top of the Senate's agenda when it returns to work later this month. A vote is expected by mid-February.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, has offered an alternative that calls for more energy conservation instead of ANWR drilling, but Hoffa urged a vote on the Bush plan.
``The program has gotten bogged down in the Senate right now and has become a political football,'' he said. ``All we want is an up or down vote.''
The administration's efforts may be complicated by the widening scandal surrounding Enron Corp., Bush's biggest political patron. The energy-trading giant collapsed in the autumn and filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 2.
The White House on Thursday denied allegations its energy plan was crafted to benefit Enron and also rebuffed calls for the release of information about contacts between Vice President Dick Cheney energy task force and energy companies, including Enron.
The White House says it did nothing to help the company and did nothing wrong.
``GOOD FOR AMERICA''
``We've got Republicans sitting around this table, we've got Democrats sitting around this table, we've probably got some people who don't care about politics sitting around this table,'' Bush said. ``But all of us know that the energy bill that's stuck in the Senate, that can't get voted on in the Senate, will be good for America.
Union official Doug McCarron told Bush he would appeal to Daschle, saying: ``We need jobs and we need a strong economy.''
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush went to Teamsters' headquarters with a list of items he wanted to talk about, but called it ``an open session.''
``The president and these unions don't agree on every issue,'' he said. ``I wouldn't be surprised if some of the union leaders bring up issues with which they disagree with the president.'' After brief remarks at the top, the rest of the meeting was closed to the media.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham web sites), who took part in the session, said ANWR's oil was needed to cut back on imports from the volatile Middle East, especially Iraq, which has become the sixth-biggest foreign crude supplier to the United States.
The oil that the U.S. government believes could be under the refuge would be enough to replace the amount of crude the United States imports from Iraq for 50 years.
``I think most Americans, if they had a vote, would say: 'I would like to have the option to not be dependent on oil from Iraq,''' Abraham told reporters after the meeting.
Cheney Briefs Labor Leaders On Energy Policy
By BOB DEANS / Cox Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- President Bush opened a week-long sales pitch for his energy policy Monday, winning guarded praise from labor unions whose members stand to pick up thousands of jobs from the White House proposals.
Separately, Vice President Dick Cheney, the president's energy point man, countered Democratic criticism of the Bush plan, saying that former President Bill Clinton's administration had done little other than "stupid things" to address the nation's long-term supply ills.
Cheney heads up a White House task force that has spent the past three months studying ways to counter rising gasoline and natural gas prices nationwide and rolling electricity brownouts on the West Coast.
Bush travels Thursday to Minnesota and Iowa to roll out the task force recommendations -- a mix of tax cuts and regulatory and environmental changes to help spur energy production and distribution, along with incentives to encourage conservation.
Hoping to build support in advance of the release, Cheney and other administration officials hosted leaders of several unions Monday to brief them on the overall goals of the energy strategy.
The focus was on building new petroleum refineries, nearly 2,000 new electricity plants -- nuclear as well as coal-fired -- over the coming two decades, along with increased coal mining and drilling for oil and natural gas, said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Hoffa stopped shy of endorsing the strategy -- he said the briefing was more broad-brushed than detailed -- but said he was encouraged by what he heard.
The Bush strategy, Hoffa said, offers new job possibilities for thousands of jobs for pipefitters, welders, carpenters and other workers, as well as possible relief from high prices.
"This crisis with regard to energy is taking billions of dollars out of the pockets of working Americans, and we have to find a solution," Hoffa told reporters after the meeting.
"There is no easy answer to this," said Hoffa. "But I think that the president's proposal is at least a start that organized labor is going to look at."
The Teamsters claims to have 1.5 million members nationwide, including drivers for the Atlanta-based United Parcel Service, UPS.
Hoffa specifically through his support behind Bush's call for developing natural gas resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, rejecting environmentalists' fears that such efforts could endanger wildlife.
"We are for ANWR," said Hoffa.
"Everybody said there'd be a great crisis with regard to the Alaskan Pipeline, and we know the elk and the reindeer are walking on it, or under it, so that's not a problem."
Bush received praise, as well, from Douglas McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.
"Look, we're union members, but we're also Americans," said McCarron. "If it helps America, we're going to work with this administration."
The Bush plan has come under criticism from Democrats and environmentalists, who fear that the approach by Bush and Cheney, both former oil industry executives, will be too heavily weighted toward energy producers and will contain comparatively little to promote conservation.
Cheney fired back on Monday.
"Just remember that we had a Democratic administration for eight years that didn't touch any of these problems," Cheney told the Associated Press in an interview. "And when they did, they did stupid things like releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was purely symbolic and had absolutely no impact whatsoever on the overall situation."
Clinton released some crude oil from the nation's strategic reserve during last year's presidential campaign. The move had little measurable impact on fuel prices. Republicans criticized the move as a rank political play to bolster the campaign of his vice president, Al Gore.
Former chairman of the Halliburton Co. oil services company, Cheney bristled when an AP reporter asked about charges that he is beholden to the oil industry.
''I've said all I'm going to say about it," Cheney retorted. "I thought it was a silly charge.''
Unions on the inside for Bush's energy policy May 15, 2001 Web posted at: 4:30 AM EDT (0830 GMT)
WASHINGTON -- Organized labor, which has complained of being shut out of the Bush White House, is on the inside when it comes to energy policy.
Unions see the potential for thousands of new jobs in the White House plan to build new power plants and transmission lines.
"I'm for my members, and the AFL-CIO members who are paying too much for gas, for electricity, and the problem is there is a lack of supply," said Douglas McCarron, president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. "That's an American issue, it's not an American labor issue."
But the energy plan that Vice President Dick Cheney hands off to the president this week will offer no immediate relief for high gasoline prices and no immediate answers to two of the politically trickiest issues that Cheney's task force looked at -- nuclear waste and gas mileage standards.
In an interview with The Associated Press three days before the president unveils his national energy strategy, Cheney did signal some distaste for tightening gas mileage requirements, referring to them generally as a "command-and-control approach."
The vice president, whose task force report already has been printed, said Monday that the Transportation Department will be ordered to study so-called corporate average fuel economy -- or CAFE standards -- after the National Academy of Sciences releases its findings on the CAFE standards in July.
The standards have, to the automobile industry's satisfaction, remained unchanged since 1975 despite the proliferation of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, vans and pickup trucks.
Acknowledging that such standards "have made a contribution in the past" by promoting fuel-efficient vehicles, Cheney added:
"Whether or not there are changes that are warranted, whether or not CAFE standards or the command-and-control approach is the right way to go in all of that -- we're going to look to the Department of Transportation for some guidance."
The product of three months of Cabinet-level study and dozens of consultations with interest groups, Cheney's energy recommendations will center on increasing the nation's energy supplies though expanded nuclear power, increased domestic oil drilling and more efficient movement of energy, including electricity, natural gas and petroleum.
Bush, armed with polls showing conservation is popular, also will discuss alternative energy sources when he releases the report Thursday during a trip to Minnesota and Iowa.
Cheney won unlikely -- but not unconditional -- support during a private meeting Monday with labor leaders from the Teamsters and big building trade unions who like what Teamsters president James Hoffa called "the amazing hundreds of thousands of jobs" that new drilling and new pipelines could create.
"This is the beginning of finding a solution to many of the problems we're having," Hoffa said. This crisis, with regard to the energy, is taking billions of dollars out of the pockets of working Americans, and we have to find a solution."
One area that Hoffa sees as beneficial for union members is the exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil and natural gas.
The Teamsters see at least 25,000 new jobs associated with exploration of the site, and will try to help the president make the case that it can be explored without hurting the environment.
But Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program, reiterated the group's opposition to the plan. "The centerpiece of the president's plan is to pillage the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a six-month fix of oil. The Congress has said no because the American people have said no. That's an unacceptable destruction of a very special place." Participants in the meeting said Cheney would not guarantee that any jobs in the proposal would be union jobs or, in response to a question from the Steelworkers union, that new pipelines would be made from U.S. steel rather than cheaper imports.
"We still have to look at the details," Hoffa said.
On Tuesday, Cheney makes the pitch to advocates for solar, wind and other renewable energies.
Cheney bristled at suggestions that the administration should be doing more to bring gasoline prices down. But he did leave open the possibility of Bush backing a reduction of the 18.4 cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax, which is being proposed by GOP lawmakers fearing their party will be blamed in the 2002 congressional elections if energy prices soar.
"It might help temporarily," Cheney said.
A letter signed by nearly 70 Democratic lawmakers Monday urged Bush to demand relief from the OPEC oil-producing cartel and order a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into potential price gouging.
"Your administration has done little at this late date to address the coming crisis in gasoline prices," the Democrats' letter read.
Democrats and environmentalists have accused Bush and Cheney, both former oilmen, of catering to the energy industry here at home.
Cheney said jawboning OPEC may bring America the "momentary joy" of lower prices but the market would quickly respond with increases. The remarks were in contrast to Bush, who promised during his presidential campaign that if elected he would use his influence to tell OPEC, "Open your spigots!"
On the Democrats' other request, Cheney said, "There's no reason to believe there's price gouging." The only reason to order up an FTC investigation now would be to give the appearance of having a solution, he said.
On nuclear power, Cheney wants to give utilities incentives to build more nuclear plants, which would force the nation to deal with the problem of nuclear waste.
Nevada's Yucca Mountain is the "furthest along and most advanced" high-level nuclear waste repository, Cheney said. But, he added, "even there we're not to the point yet where we can make a final decision."
In the 25-minute interview, Cheney joked about needing to "decompress" after lunch with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich but turned serious to report no chest pains since being hospitalized for a heart procedure in March.
The four-time heart attack victim said "health and age" keep him from coveting his boss' job.
"By the time President Bush finishes his tour I'd be 68 and, given my health history, I think it's unlikely that I would ever be a candidate myself," said Cheney, who is 60.
Cheney also dismissed suggestions that his task force's work is tainted by his private meetings with industry executives who donate to the GOP. He said he has not consulted with any associates from his former employer, the Halliburton oil-services company.
"Just because somebody makes a campaign contribution doesn't mean that they should be denied the opportunity to express their views to government officials," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Monday, January 28, 2002
Litigation imminent in lumber dispute
KAMLOOPS (CKNW/AM980) -- The U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports says it appears litigation will become necessary to solve the softwood lumber dispute with Canada.
Coalition spokesman John Ragosta says, if British Columbia and other Canadian provinces aren't willing to make further changes to their industry practices, the U.S. will let the litigation go forward.
One of the practices Ragosta is complaining about is British Columbia's refusal to put more than 13 per cent of Crown timber up for competitive bid.
Dewey Ballantine LLP is a legal agent for the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports. The UBCJA's support for the Coalition's softwood lumber petition to the US Commerce Department is listed in the firms' release below <http://www.dbtrade.com>. The original petitions are also linked.
May 1, 2001
On April 2, 2001, the U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, representing U.S. lumber mills from throughout the country, petitioned the U.S. government to take action against Canadas predatory practice of subsidizing softwood lumber and dumping it into the United States. Companies expressly supporting the petition exceeded 75% of U.S. lumber production (excluding companies with major operations in Canada). The petitions were supported by timberland owners, loggers and lumber mill employees, including both the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and PACE.
Until March 31, 2001, trade between Canada and the United States in softwood lumber was governed by the 1996 U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement. The Agreement was intended to address, in part, the problem of subsidies to Canadian softwood lumber producers and the injury they have caused U.S. mills and workers. Unfortunately, unfairly traded imports actually increased under the Agreement and there were massive efforts at evasion.
The principal subsidies at issue are the Canadian provinces' provision of timber to their mills for administratively set fees that are only a fraction of the market value of the timber. The major obstacle to a lasting solution and an end to the trade dispute has been the Canadian governments' unwillingness to permit fully open and competitive timber sales.
The Agreement was necessary to ameliorate the enormous injury that subsidized imports cause the U.S. lumber industry in terms of production and jobs. In addition, the Canadian timber pricing practices also have drawn heavy criticism from environmental and Native groups in both Canada and the United States, since they encourage more cutting and processing than a competitive market would otherwise dictate.
Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports' Petitions Requesting the United States to Impose Countervailing Duties and Antidumping Duties on Imports of Softwood Lumber from Canada (The Petitions were filed on April 2, 2001) (The following files include only the narrative sections of the Petitions)
<http://www.dbtrade.com/casework/softwood/Common%20Volume.pdf>Common Volume of the Petitions (PDF file)
<http://www.dbtrade.com/casework/softwood/CVD%20Volume.pdf>Countervailing Duty Volume (PDF file, 1.2 MB)
<http://www.dbtrade.com/casework/softwood/AD%20Volume.pdf>Antidumping Duty Volume (PDF file)
Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports' Recent Submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
<http://www.dbtrade.com/casework/softwood/lumber_subsidies.pdf>Canadian Governments Should End Lumber Subsidies and Adopt Competitive Timber Systems (PDF file, 1.5 MB)
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