Last week, the Bush administration unveiled its latest conservation initiative in the form of a cartoon pig pleading with consumers to save gasoline in their cars and energy in their homes. The Energy Department and the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy launched the campaign in response to oil supply limits due to hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast refineries. The campaign’s mascot, the Energy Hog, offers radio-based public service announcement tips on conserving energy through moderating use, maintaining equipment and increasing efficiency.
“The situation we are facing is a very different one than we faced in the past,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters. “This is in response to significant damage that has been done to the country’s energy infrastructure.”
But those environmentalists critical of the Bush administration for not taking more substantive steps should keep in mind that shoring up the nation’s oil supply is the White House’s priority here, not conservation. Underscoring the fact that the administration’s call for conservation is only a short-term effort, President Bush continued to push for approval to build several more oil refineries around the United States. “It ought to be clear to everybody,” Bush commented last week, “that this country needs to build more refining capacity to be able to deal with the issues of tight supply.” But clearly longer-term conservation tactics, such as raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for vehicles and boosting sources of renewable energy, are not a big part of the Bush plan.