The Future of Energy Policy
April 27, 2005
Thanks for the warm welcome. I appreciate such a
generous welcome. Marianne, thank you for your introduction, and
congratulations on being the Small Business Person of the Year. You
had some pretty stiff competition. (Laughter.) I appreciate the
courage that Marianne has shown and her determination to succeed. She
is proof that the entrepreneurial spirit in America is really strong.
I want to thank Hector Barreto, the SBA Administrator. I
appreciate the fine job he's done. (Applause.) It was my honor to
meet some of the state Small Business Person of the Year honorees.
Congratulations. I appreciate the ambassadors who are here.
Embajadores, thank you for coming. And I appreciate you all giving me
a chance to come by and visit with you. (Laughter and applause.)
I appreciate the fact that our small business owners are taking
risks and pursuing dreams, and as a result, you're creating jobs for
millions of our citizens. A vibrant small business sector is important
for the economic health of our country. I appreciate the fact that the
small business entrepreneurs are some of the great innovators in our
nation. After all, men and women who run small businesses have a
vision to see beyond what is, and the courage to pursue what might be.
From Thomas Edison's light bulb to Alexander Graham Bell's
telephone, to Henry Ford's Model T, most Americans -- most of America's
great inventions began with the innovative spirit of entrepreneurs.
And today a new generation of entrepreneurs is leading a technological
revolution that will transform our lives in incredible ways. I'm going
to spend a little time talking about how technology can help us.
One of the roles of an administration is to set an agenda, a clear
agenda. I've laid out an agenda that I believe will unleash the
innovative spirit of our small business entrepreneurs. We can't make
you successful, but we can create an environment in which people can
dream big dreams and in which people are willing to risk capital. We
need to keep your taxes low. We need to protect you from needless
regulation and the burden of junk lawsuits. (Applause.) We'll
continue to work to open up new markets for your products. The House
of Representatives and the United States Senate needs to pass CAFTA
legislation, free-market agreement with Central America. (Applause.)
We'll continue to work to lower the cost of health care by
insisting that health care modernize itself through electronic records
and helping to spread health savings accounts-- they're particularly
good for small businesses -- and to work with the United States
Congress to finally pass medical liability reform. (Applause.) I look
forward to working with the Congress to create association health
plans, so small businesses can buy insurance, can pool risk across
jurisdictional boundaries so they can buy insurance at the same
discount that big businesses can.
As small business owners, you know that a dollar should be spent
wisely, or not at all. That same standard ought to apply to the
federal government when it comes time to spending your money.
(Applause.) I've submitted a disciplined budget to the Congress that
meets our priorities, that restrains federal spending and keeps us on
track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I appreciate the fact that
the Senate has passed a version of the budget; and the House has passed
a version of the budget. Now it's time for them to together and pass a
budget resolution this week.
By restraining federal spending, by keeping taxes low, we'll keep
this economy growing and keep the innovative spirit strong. But in
order to make sure our economy grows, in order to make sure people are
still able to find opportunity, in order to encourage small business
sector growth and vitality, we need to address a major problem facing
our country -- and that is our nation's growing dependence on foreign
sources of energy. (Applause.)
Technology is allowing us to better use our existing energy
resources. And in the years ahead, technology will allow us to create
entirely new sources of energy in ways earlier generations could never
dream. Technology is the ticket, is this nation's ticket to greater
energy independence. And that's what I want to talk about today. I
fully understand that many folks around this country are concerned
about the high price of gasoline. I know small business owners are.
I went to Fort Hood the other day -- it's right around the corner
from Crawford. (Laughter.) And sat down with some of our troops and
we had dinner -- lunch, in Texas they call dinner (laughter) -- the
noon meal, and supper the evening meal. (Laughter and applause.) I'm
trying to standardize the language. (Laughter.) We sat down for
And I was asking the soldiers, you know, what was on your mind --
what was on their mind. And a fellow said, why don't you lower gas
prices -- gasoline prices, Mr. President? Obviously, gasoline prices
were on his mind. I said, I wish I could; if I could, I would. I
explained to him that the higher cost of gasoline is a problem that has
been years in the making. To help in the near-term, we'll continue to
encourage oil-producing countries to maximize their production, to say
to countries that have got some excess capacity, get it on the market
so you do not destroy the consumers that you rely upon to buy your
We're doing everything we can to make sure our consumers are
treated fairly, that there is no price gouging. Yet, the most
important thing we can do today is to address the fundamental problem
of our energy situation. That's the most important thing we can do.
And the fundamental problem is this: Our supply of energy is not
growing fast enough to meet the demands of our growing economy.
Over the past decade our energy consumption has increased by more
than 12 percent, while our domestic production has increased by less
than one-half of 1 percent. A growing economy causes us to consume
more energy. And, yet, we're not producing energy here at home, which
means we're reliant upon foreign nations. And at the same time we've
become more reliant upon foreign nations, the global demand for energy
is growing faster than the growing supply. Other people are using more
energy, as well. And that's contributed to a rise in prices.
Because of our foreign energy dependence, our ability to take
actions at home that will lower prices for American families is
diminishing. Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on
the American people. It's a tax our citizens pay every day in higher
gasoline prices and higher costs to heat and cool their homes. It's a
tax on jobs and it's a tax that is increasing every year.
The problem is clear. This problem did not develop overnight, and
it's not going to be fixed overnight. But it's now time to fix it.
See, we got a fundamental question we got to face here in America: Do
we want to continue to grow more dependent on other nations to meet our
energy needs, or do we want to do what is necessary to achieve greater
control of our economic destiny?
I made my decision. I know what is important for this country to
become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, and that requires a
national strategy. Now, when I first got elected, I came to Washington
and I said, we need a national strategy. And I submitted a national
strategy to the United States Congress. And it has been stuck. And
now it's time for the Congress to pass the legislation necessary for
this country to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
And the most important component of our strategy is to recognize
the transformational power of technology. Over the last quarter
century, technology has radically changed the way we live and work.
Think about this: Just 25 years ago -- for a guy 58 years old, that
doesn't seem all that long ago -- (laughter) -- if you're 24 years old,
it's a heck of a long time ago. (Laughter.) In the 1980s, most
Americans used typewriters, instead of computers. We used pay phones,
instead of cell phones. We used carbon paper, instead of laser
printers. We had bank tellers, instead of ATMs. (Laughter.) We had
Rolodexes, instead of PDAs. And for long family trips, we played the "license plate" game -- (laughter and applause) -- instead of in-car
DVDs. (Laughter.) We've seen a lot of change in a quick period of
time, haven't we?
I believe the next 25 years the changes are going to be even more
dramatic. Our country is on the doorstep of incredible technological
advances that will make energy more abundant and more affordable for
our citizens. By harnessing the power of technology, we're going to be
able to grow our economy, protect our environment, and achieve greater
energy independence. That's why I'm so optimistic about our future
here in America.
The first essential step toward greater energy independence is to
apply technology to increase domestic production from existing energy
resources. And one of the most promising sources of energy is nuclear
power. (Applause.) Today's technology has made nuclear power safer,
cleaner, and more efficient than ever before. Nuclear power is now
providing about 20 percent of America's electricity, with no air
pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power is one of the
safest, cleanest sources of power in the world, and we need more of it
here in America.
Unfortunately, America has not ordered a new nuclear power plant
since the 1970s. France, by contrast, has built 58 plants in the same
period. And today, France gets more than 78 percent of its electricity
from safe, clean nuclear power.
It's time for America to start building again. That's why, three
years ago, my administration launched the Nuclear Power 2010
Initiative. This is a seven-year, $1.1 billion effort by government
and industry to start building new nuclear power plants by the end of
this decade. One of the greatest obstacles we face to building new
plants is regulatory uncertainty which discourages new plant
construction. Since the 1970s, more than 35 plants were stopped at
various stages of planning and construction because of bureaucratic
obstacles. No wonder -- no wonder -- the industry is hesitant to start
building again. We must provide greater certainty to those who risk
capital if we want to expand a safe, clean source of energy that will
make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
To do so, I've asked the Department of Energy to work on changes to
existing law that will reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant
licensing process, and also provide federal risk insurance that will
protect those building the first four new nuclear plants against delays
that are beyond their control. A secure energy future for America must
include more nuclear power. (Applause.)
A secure energy future for America also means building and
expanding American oil refineries. Technology has allowed us to better
control emissions and improve the efficiency and environmental
performance of our existing refineries. Yet there have been no new oil
refineries built in the United States since 1976. And existing
refineries are running at nearly full capacity. Our demand for
gasoline grows, which means we're relying more on foreign imports of
To encourage the expansion of existing facilities, the EPA is
simplifying rules and regulations. I will direct federal agencies to
work with states to encourage the building of new refineries -- on
closed military facilities, for example -- and to simplify the
permitting process for such construction. By easing the regulatory
burden, we can refine more gasoline for our citizens here at home.
That will help assure supply and reduce dependence on foreign sources
of energy. (Applause.)
Advances in technology will also allow us to open up new areas to
environmentally responsible exploration for oil and natural gas,
including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Applause.) Technology
now makes it possible to reach ANWR's hydrocarbons by drilling on just
2,000 acres of the 19 million acres of land. That's just one-tenth of
1 percent of ANWR's total area. Because of the advances in technology,
we can reach the oil deposits with almost no impact on land or local
wildlife. (Applause.) Developing this tiny section of ANWR could
eventually yield up to a million barrels of oil per day. That's a
million barrels less that we've depended on from foreign sources of
Listen, the more oil we can produce in environmentally sensitive
ways here at home, the less dependent our economy is, the less reliant
we are on other -- on other parts of the world. Technology is allowing
us to make better use of natural gas. Natural gas is an important
source of energy for industries like agriculture or manufacturing or
power production. The United States is the sixth-largest proven
reserves of natural gas in the world, and we'll do more to develop this
vital resource. That's why I signed into law a tax credit to encourage
a new pipeline to bring Alaskan natural gas to the rest of the United
Technology is also helping us to get at reserves of natural gas
that cannot be reached -- easily reached by pipelines. Today, we're
able to super cool natural gas into liquid form so it can be
transported on tankers and stored more easily. Thanks to this
technology, our imports of liquefied natural gas nearly doubled in
2003. Last year, imports rose another 29 percent. But our ability to
expand our use of liquefied natural gas is limited, because today we
have just five receiving terminals and storage facilities around the
To take advantage of this new -- this technology, federal agencies
must expedite the review of the 32 proposed new projects that will
either expand or build new liquefied natural gas terminals. In other
words, there's projects on the books, and we're going to get after the
review process. Congress should make it clear to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission its authority to choose sites for new terminals,
so we can expand our use of liquefied natural gas.
Technology also allows us to use our most abundant energy source in
a smart way. America as enough coal to last for 250 years. But coal
presents an environmental challenge. To make cleaner use of this
resource, I have asked Congress for more than $2 billion over 10 years
for my coal research initiative. It's a program that will encourage
new technologies that remove virtually all pollutants from coal-fired
power plants. My Clear Skies initiative will result in more than $52
billion in investment in clean coal technologies by the private
sector. To achieve greater energy dependence, we must put technology
to work so we can harness the power of clean coal.
The second essential step toward greater energy independence is to
harness technology to create new sources of energy. Hydrogen is one of
the most promising of these new sources of energy. Two years ago my
administration launched a crash program called the Hydrogen Fuel
initiative. We've already dedicated $1.2 billion over five years to
this effort to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells. We know that when
hydrogen is used in the fuel cell it has the power to -- potential to
power anything from a cell phone to a computer to an automobile; that
it emits pure water, instead of exhaust fumes.
I've asked Congress for an additional $500 million over five years
to help move advanced technology vehicles from the research lab to the
dealership lot. See, I want the children here in America -- you two
are sitting there -- to be able to take your driver's test in a
completely pollution-free car that will make us less dependent on
foreign sources of energy. (Applause.) To help produce fuel for these
cars, my administration has also launched a Nuclear Hydrogen
Initiative, an effort to develop advanced nuclear technologies that can
produce hydrogen fuels for cars and trucks. My budgets have dedicated
$35 million over the past three years and will continue this effort.
In other words, we're developing new technologies that will change
the way we drive. See, I know what we're going to need to do for a
generation to come. We need to get on a path away from the fossil fuel
economy. If we want to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy,
we must develop new ways to power automobiles. My administration is
committed to finding those news ways, and we're working with industry
to do so.
Ethanol is another promising source of energy. I like the idea of
people growing corn that gets converted into fuel for cars and trucks.
Our farmers can help us become less dependent on foreign oil.
(Applause.) Technology is now under development that may one day allow
us to get ethanol from agricultural and industrial waste.
We can produce another renewable fuel, bodies, from leftover fats
and vegetable oils. I mean, we're exploring a lot of alternatives.
Ethanol and biodiesel have got great potential. And that's why I've
supported a flexible, cost-effective renewable fuel standard as part of
the energy bill. This proposal would require fuel producers to include
a certain percentage of ethanol and biodiesel in their fuel and would
increase the amount of these renewables in our nation's fuel supply.
Listen, more corn means more ethanol, which means less imported oil.
Technology can also help us tap into a vital source that flows
around us all the time and that is wind. That's why I've asked
Congress to provide $1.9 billion over 10 years for tax incentives for
renewable energy technologies like wind, as well as residential solar
heating systems and energy produced from landfill gas and biomass.
An energy strategy must be comprehensive, all aimed at making us
less dependent. A third essential step toward greater energy
independence is to harness the power of technology so we can continue
to become better conservers of energy. Already, technology is helping
us grow our economy while using less energy. For example, in 1997, the
U.S. steel industry used 45 percent less energy to produce a ton of
steel than it did in 1975. The forest and paper industry used 21
percent less energy to produce a ton of paper. In other words, we're
making advances in conservation. And in the years ahead, if we're
smart about what we do, we can become even more productive while
conserving even more energy.
Technological advances are helping develop new products that give
our consumers the same and even better performance at lower cost by
using less energy. Think about this, you can buy a refrigerator that
uses the same amount of power as a 75-watt light bulb. It's a
remarkable advance when it comes to helping consumers save money on
energy. Advances in energy-efficient windows keep hot and cold air in
and prevent your dollars from flowing out. (Laughter.) High
efficiency light bulbs last longer than traditional ones, while
requiring less electricity.
These and other technological advances are saving our consumers a
lot of money, and there's more to be done. Let me tell you this, in
2001, the average American family spent about half as much to heat his
home as it did in 1978. Think about what's possible over the next 25
years. We can imagine a day when technologies like solar panels,
high-efficiency appliances, and advanced installation will allow us to
build zero-energy homes that produce as much energy as they consume.
That's the promise that technology holds for us all.
And as we make our homes more energy efficient, we're doing the
same for our automobiles. Hybrid vehicles are one of the most
promising technologies immediately available to consumers. These cars
are powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity. They provide
better fuel efficiency, ultra-low emissions and exceptional
performance. And their electronic systems are paving the way for
tomorrow's hydrogen-powered vehicles.
We're encouraging automakers to produce a new generation of modern,
clean diesel cars and trucks. My administration has issued new rules
that will remove more than 90 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel by
2010. Clean diesel technology will allow consumers to travel much
farther on each gallon of fuel, without the smoke and pollution of past
diesel engines. We've proposed $2.5 billion over 10 years in tax
credits that will encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient hybrid
cars and trucks, and we need to expand these incentives to include
clean diesel vehicles, as well. (Applause.)
As we conserve energy at home and on the road, technology will help
us deliver it more efficiently. New technologies such as
superconducting power lines can help us bring our electrical grid into
the 21st century, and protect American families and businesses from
damaging power outages. Some of you who live in the Midwest and on the
East Coast know what I'm talking about -- damaging power outages. We
have modern interstate grids for our phone lines and our highways.
It's time for America to build a modern electricity grid. (Applause.)
The electricity title is an important part of the energy bill. As a
matter of fact, a lot of which I've discussed so far is an important
part of the energy bill that needs to get passed by the United States
Congress before August of this year. (Applause.)
The House acted, and I appreciate the leadership in the House. Now
it's time for the United States Senate to act. And then it's time for
them to get together and iron out their differences and get me a bill
so I can sign.
The fourth essential step toward greater energy independence is to
make sure other nations can take advantage in advances -- take
advantage of the advances in technology to reduce their own demand.
Listen, we need to remember that the market for energy is a global one,
and we're not the only large consumer. Much of the current projected
rise in energy prices is due to rising energy consumption in Asia. As
Asian economies grow, their demand for energy is growing. And the
demand for energy is growing faster than the supply of energy is
increasing. And as small business people, you understand what happens
when demand is larger than supply -- you hope that's the case for the
products you produce. (Laughter.) Our costs -- our prices are going
up. It is in our interest to help these countries become more energy
self-sufficient; that will help reduce demand, which will help take
pressure off price, and at the same time help protect the environment.
I'm looking forward to going to a G8 meeting in July in Great
Britain. And there I'm going to work with developed nations, our
friends and allies to help developing nations, countries like China and
India to develop and deploy clean energy technology. Like us, some of
these countries have got substantial coal reserves. We need to find
practical ways to help these countries take advantage of clean coal
As well, we will explore ways we can work with like-minded
countries to develop advance nuclear technologies that are safe, clean
and protect against proliferation. With these technologies, with the
expansion of nuclear power, we can relieve stress on the environment
and reduce global demand for fossil fuels. That would be good for the
world, and that would be good for American consumers, as well.
This strategy will work for our children and our grandchildren. We
should have put this in place several decades ago. We haven't had a
national energy strategy in this country for a long period of time. I
tried to get the Congress to pass it four years ago. Now is the time
for them to act. For the sake of this country, for the sake of a
growing economy, and for the sake of national security, we've got to do
what it takes to expand our independence. We must become less
dependent. And there's no doubt in my mind that technology is going to
help us achieve that objective.
One reason why I believe this so strongly is because free societies
are able to adjust to the times. And we're the freest of free
societies. We're a society where it doesn't matter where you were
raised or where you're from; if you've got a dream, you can pursue it
and realize your dream. (Applause.)
Our country has always responded to challenges because we've got
people with such great imaginations and such drive and such
determination. Twenty-five years from now, people are going to look
back and say, I like my hydrogen-powered automobile -- (laughter) --
and I produced a little extra energy this year from my home. Our
farmers are going to be saying, you know, the crops up, and we're less
Now is the time to put that strategy in place. Now is the time to
do the right thing for America. Now is the time to set aside political
differences and focus on what is good for the United States of
America. And with your help, we'll achieve that. (Applause.)
God bless you all. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
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