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Timeline: How Dick Cheney Helped Cause the BP oil spill

Why Dick Cheney and the GOP are to blame for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Courtesy of Center for American Progress

2001: Cheney’s secret energy task force crafts national energy policy. The Bush administration released the National Energy Policy Report on May 16. President Bush appoints Dick Cheney, who was the Chief Financial Officer of Haliburton before taking the VP spot. But he was officially still on Haliburton’s payroll and kept about 430,000 shares in Haliburton stock.

The task force report was based on recommendations provided to Cheney from coal, oil, and nuclear companies and related trade groups—many of which were major contributors to Bush’s presidential campaign and to the Republican Party. The Oil companies— including BP, the National Mining Association, and the American Petroleum Institute—secretly met with the Cheney and his staff.

Only 7 of the 105 recommendations in the plan involved renewable energy. Cheney’s task force report proposed funding the development of “clean energy technologies” by opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling and earmarking $1.2 billion of bid bonuses from leases in ANWR.

2002: Renewable energy budget cuts.Bush released the fiscal year 2002 budget on April 9 and severly cut clean energy research and development. Solar and renewable energy R&D would drop by more than a third; nuclear energy R&D would be almost halved; and energy conservation R&D would fall by nearly 25 percent.

House energy bill includes $33.5 billion in tax breaks for dirty energy. The House of Representatives on August 2 passed the Securing America’s Future Energy Act, H.R. 4. It included $33.5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives over 10 years for the power industry aimed at increasing oil and gas exploration.

In 2002, Senate clean energy bill fails with a Republican-led Congress.

2003: Republican-led Congress backs a House energy bill that includes $23.5 billion in tax breaks for big energy companies. The legislation would hand out $23.5 billion over 10 years in tax breaks to increase oil and gas production and $5.4 billion in subsidies and loan guarantees.

Yet More renewable energy budget cuts. President Bush’s FY 2004 budget once again reduced funding for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass totaling more than $25 million in cuts.

In 2004, the Republican-led House passes a bill allowing companies to build oil refineries in minority communities. The United States Refinery Revitalization Act passed the House on June 16, but was never made into law.

2005: Yet even more renewable energy budget cuts. President Bush’s FY 2006 budget once again cut energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy by about 4 percent; cuts totaled nearly $50 million.

Energy bill includes $27 billion for dirty energy. President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on August 8. The bill closely resembled Cheney’s 2001 plan and gave $27 billion to coal, oil and gas, and nuclear, and only $6.4 billion for renewable energy. Amendments in the House and Senate to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles failed.

These regulations permit oil and gas industry to regulate itself!

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service—the agency responsible for managing oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and collecting royalties from companies—decided in 2005 that oil companies, rather than the government, were in the best position to determining their operations’ environmental impacts. This meant that there was no longer any need for an environmental impact analysis for deepwater drilling, though an earlier draft stated that such drilling experience was limited.

2006: A House-passed bill allows drilling in Arctic Refuge. The House passed the American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act on May 25, which would open oil leases on the coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—an area of 1.5 million acres. More budget cuts for renewable energy. President Bush’s 2007 FY budget cut funding for energy conservation by 6.3 percent to $289 million and stopped funding for the geothermal program—although Congress later restored some of this geothermal funding.

2007: Government agency failed to collect more than $865 million in revenues. Investigators from the Interior Department determined that a “top Interior Department official was told nearly three years ago about a legal blunder that allowed drilling companies to avoid billions of dollars in payments for oil and gas pumped from publicly owned waters.”

Yet, still, more budget cuts for renewable energy. President Bush’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposed to cut research funds for efficiency and renewable energy by 16 percent, eliminate them for geothermal energy, and leave funding for solar stagnant. Bush administration opposes expansion of renewable energy.

President Bush also threatened to veto the Energy Independence and Security Act because it included a renewable electricity standard and renewable energy tax credits funded by the elimination of many tax subsidies for major oil companies totaling approximately $13 billion.

2008: More budget cuts for renewable energy. President Bush proposes a 27 percent cut for Department of Energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in the FY 2008 budget.

Bush administration opposes expansion of renewable energy. President Bush opposed House passage of the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, H.R. 5351, as advised on February 28.

Bush lifts moratorium on offshore drilling. Bush lifted the executive moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts on July 14. This moratorium was put in place in 1990 by Pres. George H.W. Bush. Bush then called on Congress to lift its own annual ban on drilling, as John McCain embraced “drill, baby, drill” that year.

Government agency accepted gifts and engaged in fraternizing and illicit activities. A June 2008 interior general report found that Minerals Management Service officials accepted gifts, engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees from energy firms, and showed favoritism in handling contracts.

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