US Petroleum Users Seek Major Shift in Energy Policy

Executives of shippers, chemical companies and other big users of petroleum products want the new Democratic-controlled Congress to overhaul energy policy by tightening fuel-efficiency standards and opening new offshore areas for oil and gas drilling, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The campaign, co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith, chairman and president of FedEx Corp., and Gen. P.X. Kelley, a former commandant of the Marine Corps, outlines a compromise between interests representing energy supply and demand in the U.S..

It comes as officials from oil-producing nations meet tomorrow to consider production cuts to curb growing Western oil inventories.

The group, calling itself the Energy Security Leadership Council, says lawmakers should force auto makers to raise fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars by 4 percent a year, a level opposed by Detroit.

It also wants to lift moratoria on oil and gas exploration off much of the nation's coastline--fought by environmental groups.

The council also proposes a "smart subsidy" that would shift government incentives from corn-based ethanol, when prices for the fuel additive are high, to other promising domestic fuel sources.

Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents ethanol producers, said it had no immediate comment on the proposal.

"Somebody has to bite a big bullet," Gen. Kelley said, noting the last Congress avoid major policy shifts that would upset lobby groups that influence the nation's energy policy.

Copyright 2006 Xinhua News Agency.