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Bush urges Senate to back his energy plan

Bush urges Senate to back his energy plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Saturday urged the U.S. Senate to approve an energy plan that includes a controversial measure to open a portion of pristine Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling.

In his weekly radio address, Bush waved the warning flags of "blackouts and sky-high energy bills of recent summers."

"Passing my comprehensive energy plan is not just important for energy security, it is also vital to our economic security," he said. "I urge Congress to protect consumers from these wild swings in energy prices for the future."

With demand for energy steadily increasing, Bush said the United States must move toward energy independence, arguing that his plan would help do so.

"America is already using more energy than our domestic resources can provide, and unless we act to increase our energy independence, our reliance on foreign sources of energy will only increase," he said.

The United States imports a little more than half the oil it uses.

Bush said his plan "promotes conservation, ... increases funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, and supports the development of fuel-efficient vehicles."

One of the plan's most controversial measures calls for opening a portion of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, which many conservationists and preservationists oppose.

Bush said modern technology could bring oil to the surface with little damage to the wilderness, adding, "we should listen to Alaskans who support exploring ANWR [for oil] in a safe and clean way."

Unveiled in May, Bush's energy plan passed the House of Representatives in August, but it could face tougher going in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Opponents said that it is weighted to support the oil and energy industry and does not do enough to promote conservation.

Utah Democrat lauds 'secure' Olympics

Meanwhile, in the Democrats' weekly address, U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah praised the country and his home state for staging a terrorism-free Olympics so far.

"Never before in the history of sports has there been such an emphasis on public safety," Matheson said.

"With nearly 2,500 athletes, tens of thousands of visitors and the president of the United States on hand, Salt Lake City and the surrounding venues have been the most secure place on Earth," he said.


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