Walters, Bush Assistant Debate Energy Policy

Article excerpt

By Ted Bridis

Associated Press

TULSA _ Democratic Gov. David Walters told independent oil and gas producers Monday that President Bush has driven up petroleum imports at the expense of domestic drilling.

But Henson Moore, an assistant to the president, said Bill Clinton and Al Gore's environmental proposals, such as restricting offshore drilling and rigs in Alaska's wilderness, would cripple an industry already suffering.

"Where is the environmental balance going to be with the next administration?" Moore asked. "We have trouble enough with a president who is fighting on our side."

Walters and Moore debated federal energy policy at the annual convention of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and Democratic challenger Steve Lewis earlier met on a panel.

Moore, a House member from Louisiana from 1975 to 1987 and a former deputy secretary at the Department of Energy, listed past initiatives by Bush to help the energy industry, including reforms of natural gas transportation and tax credits for enhanced oil recovery.

The men argued about the value of drilling in the solled ANWAR area of federally owned Alaskan wilderness. Moore said it was vital to domestic drilling; Walters said that it wasn't worth environmental risks and that independent producers wouldn't benefit from drilling in Alaska, anyway.

Moore said Bush had fought successfully a proposal to declare oileld waste an environmental hazard, which would force producers to pay higher rates to dispose of their wastes.

Moore said Clinton opposes new offshore drilling, and he lambasted Gore for proposing in his book a carbonx. …