Bush Urges Domestic, Alternative Energy Sources

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President Bush says it's time for Congress to do something about high oil prices and dependence on foreign oil. Speaking at an energy conference, the president urged increasing incentives for domestic production, alternative energy research and for buying hybrid vehicles.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

President Bush is challenging the House and Senate to work out their differences and pass energy legislation for him to sign by August. The president has been pushing for an energy bill since taking office, with little success despite Republican control of Congress. In his remarks today, the president made no mention of the issue that scuttled the bill in the last Congress, as NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA reporting:

In a speech to a Washington meeting of the Energy Efficiency Forum, the president expressed frustration at what he called partisan bickering he says has stalled energy legislation for the past four years. Now, he says, with high gasoline prices hitting American families and businesses, there's no more room for delay.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: If you're trying to meet a payroll or trying to meet a family budget, even small increases at the pump have a big impact on your bottom line. For the sake of American families and American workers, this country must take action now to deal with the causes of rising gasoline prices.

GONYEA: Mr. Bush said that an energy bill won't be a quick fix for the problem of high prices, but that it will address long-term problems. He also called for more oil exploration in the US, for construction of more nuclear power plants, and for foreign oil exporters to increase production to meet growing world demand.

The president also always makes a point to highlight elements of his energy proposals that encourage conservation. Today, he proposed doubling to a maximum of $4,000 the tax credit for buyers of hybrid cars powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity. And he is promoting the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Pres. BUSH: Last month, I visited a hydrogen fueling station right here in Washington. I saw cars and vans that run on hydrogen fuel cells instead of gasoline. And these cars and vans emit pure water instead of exhaust fumes. The energy bill will authorize additional funds for this vital initiative.

GONYEA: But industry analysts say such vehicles are still in the development stage, and widespread availability of hydrogen cars and trucks is still likely 15 or more years away. The president's critics say that his energy plan focuses far too much on finding more oil and not nearly enough on pushing for real conservation which they say would have greater near-term impact, things like requiring that new cars and trucks get more miles per gallon, a move that would also reduce pollution.

Environmentalists have long questioned the president's balancing of the energy and ecology equation. Last week, a top White House official was discovered to have altered documents to downplay the connection between greenhouse gases and climate change. Today it was learned that that official has left the administration to take a job with ExxonMobil. Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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