Becoming less dependent on foreign oil is a “vital national goal,” said President Bush. (Photos by Herman Farrer, courtesy of Johnson Controls.)
WASHINGTON - The United States needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, declared President George W. Bush at the 16th annual Energy Efficiency Forum, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. An important step in that direction would be to pass the energy legislation currently pending in Congress, he stated.

President Bush was the keynote speaker at the Forum, which was co-sponsored by Johnson Controls and the United States Energy Association (USEA).

Energy efficiency is "critical for our economy and it's critical for the future of this nation," said Bush. Increasing energy efficiency will save money for consumers. It will help make American business more competitive. It will help reduce our energy consumption. Increasing energy efficiency will "help us achieve a vital national goal. And that is making America less dependent on foreign sources of energy."

To keep our economy growing, "we need an affordable and reliable supply of energy," he said. "Today, many families and businesses are hurting because of high gasoline prices." Even small increases at the pump can have a big impact on the bottom line.

To illustrate our oil dependence, the president noted that, currently, "Only about 35 percent of the crude oil used in U.S. refineries is produced here at home." Our dependence on foreign oil is "like a foreign tax on the American dream. And that tax is growing every year."

But, he added, "Our dependence on foreign oil didn't develop overnight, and it won't be fixed overnight."

To solve the problem we need a comprehensive energy policy, Bush said. For four years now Congress has discussed and debated energy policy with no results, he remarked. "Summer is here. Temperatures are rising. And tempers will really rise if Congress doesn't pass an energy bill."

The U.S. needs comprehensive energy legislation now, President Bush asserted.

Steps To Independence

To achieve less dependence on foreign oil, the first step is to "improve conservation and efficiency," the president said. We need to encourage people to make the right choices in the marketplace regarding efficiency.

The second step is to "produce and refine more crude oil here at home in environmentally sensitive ways."

Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) on just 2,000 of the 19 million acres will potentially yield up to 1 million barrels of oil a day with almost no impact on the environment, proclaimed Bush. We also need to improve our ability to refine crude oil and gasoline, he said. "There hasn't been a single new refinery built in America since 1976."

We need to encourage existing refineries to expand their capacity as well as encourage the building of new refineries, he said, simplifying the permitting process and promoting reasonable regulations.

The third step is to "develop new alternatives to gasoline and diesel," said Bush. Through the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, for example, "We can begin to replace our hydrocarbon economy with a hydrogen economy." Another promising source of fuel, he said, is biodiesel.

And to overcome rising electricity costs, we must expand our efforts to improve conservation and energy efficiency, he remarked. In addition, "We must also harness the power of technology to help us deliver electricity more efficiently." We need to "bring our electricity grid into the 21st century." We also need to generate more electricity, using coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, Bush emphasized.

Clean Coal, More Nuclear

Since coal presents environmental challenges, the president pointed out that he has pledged from the start of his administration to invest in clean coal technologies. "There's no doubt in my mind that we can succeed" using technology to burn coal in environmentally friendly ways, he said.

We must also make better use of our supply of natural gas, increasing production on federal lands, he stated. And we must expand our use of nuclear power.

There have been no new nuclear plants built in this country since the 1970s. "It's time for America to start building again," said Bush. "To build a secure energy future for America, we need to expand production of safe, clean nuclear power."

Summing up, the president said the United States needs to diversify its energy supply and reduce dependency on foreign sources of energy. Comprehensive energy legislation will help us make better use of our energy supply. He reiterated, "The Congress needs to pass an energy bill now."

Publication date: 07/04/2005