Bush: US must not be "hostage" to foreign oil
The United States must reduce its dependence on oil from foreign countries that can hold it hostage, President George W. Bush said on Monday as he tried to revive an agenda obscured by controversy over Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident.
|Interesting emphasis on foreign oil. A subtle boxing in of Congress, I think, over ANWR etc. |
"Some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments or fundamental differences with the United States," Bush said in a speech at the start a two-day swing through Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado.
"These countries know we need their oil and that reduces influence. It creates a national security issue when we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us," he added, without naming the countries.
|blinding glimpse of the obvious, but Congress acts as if they're blind to it|
Drawn-out publicity over Cheney's accidental shooting of a quail-hunting partner during a trip to Texas cost Bush valuable time last week in trying to push his agenda. His efforts to promote health care proposals were drowned out by the focus on Cheney, who delayed commenting publicly for four days.
Disputes over a domestic eavesdropping program and the response to Hurricane Katrina have also thrown Bush's administration off stride.
Bush toured a Johnson Controls Inc. battery development center and looked at two hybrid SUVs before making a speech at company headquarters in Milwaukee.
Bush said he envisioned a future in which a plug-in hybrid car could drive 40 miles on a lithium-ion battery, then stop at a filling station for ethanol, a fuel usually made from corn.
"We're close to having this vision realized in America," Bush said. The trip could be conducted without consuming a drop of oil, he said.
Bush in his State of the Union address last month said the United States must break an addiction to Middle East oil. He has called for improving alternative-fuel technology to reduce U.S. oil imports from the region by 75 percent by 2025.
He has promoted alternative fuels such as ethanol, and research into producing fuel from wood chips or grasses.
Frank Verrastro, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said last week he did not understand why Bush was singling out the Middle East when Saudi Arabia was a reliable oil supplier, compared with Russia, Venezuela and Nigeria.
Bush, a former oilman, said "I know it came as a shock to some to hear a Texan stand up there in front of the country and say, 'We got a real problem. America is addicted to oil.' But I meant it because it's a true fact and we've got to do something about it now."
"Less than half the crude oil used in our refineries is produced here at home. Sixty percent comes from foreign countries," he said.
High gasoline prices have weighed on Bush's popularity as the midterm election year gets under way with control of Congress up for grabs.
Government figures show the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline last week was $2.28 per gallon, up about 39 cents from a year ago. That was down from the all-time high of $3.07 a gallon set in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf Coast refineries.
Bush reiterated his call for building more U.S. nuclear power plants as an energy alternative to expensive natural gas. "I think it makes sense to do so," he said.
Posted by: lotp 2006-02-20