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Special Event

Gov. George W. Bush Unveils Energy Policy

Aired September 29, 2000 - 10:28 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we're going to take you live now to Saginaw, Michigan where Gov. George W. Bush of Texas is announcing his energy policy as he campaigns for the presidency of the United States.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter. In California and elsewhere, small business owners and families alike are seeing their electricity bills skyrocket. In Michigan and other states, the hardships are real and they are growing.

Many people here heat your homes with natural gas and propane. Today, at the well head, natural gas costs twice as much as it did last year. An affordable energy is vital to Michigan's great economy with its automobile manufacturing base and growing high-tech sector.

The situation is critical for our nation. President Clinton warns of a possible recession. His fears could be well-placed. See, our nation has had three recessions in the last generation, and each one of them tied to an energy shock. After seven and a half years in office and four months before departing, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore have begun to grasp a problem that has been years in the making.

This administration tries to take credit for our economy, but they seem to have forgotten what makes it run. Even today in our new high-tech economy, America runs on oil and gas and coal gained from the Earth and water behind our dams. In fact, the new economy has made us more reliant on these sources of energy. Six years ago, many Americans had never even used Internet.

Today, many are. And we think of our new economy as quiet and far removed from the industrial age. And in some ways it is. Yet today, the equipment needed to power the Internet consumes 8 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States. Over half of that electricity comes from the burning of coal, and about 15 percent comes from natural gas. Our nation uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day and the need grows daily.

No matter how advanced our economy may be, no matter how sophisticated our equipment becomes, for the foreseeable future we will still depend on fossil fuels.

Against this background, our country has a great and urgent need for a comprehensive energy policy with leadership from the president himself. Without a long-term strategy to ensure a steady and reliable supplies of energy, we put at risk our economy and the way of life it supports.

Today, America has no energy policy, as the secretary of energy himself reminded us recently. He admitted that the Clinton-Gore administration was caught napping -- his words -- when fuel prices began to rise. This is a good description. And it's taken an election to wake them up.

(APPLAUSE)

Since this administration took office, America's need for oil has increased by 14 percent. Over the same period, our imports of foreign oil have increased by more than a third. Never before has our country been more dependent on foreign supplies. Today, we import 56 percent of our oil. In 20 years, on our current path, that figure could be as high as two-thirds.

Meanwhile, our own production of crude oil is at the lowest level in 50 years. And our refinery capacity has not kept pace with demand. Let me put it plainly: oil consumption is increasing, our production is dropping, our imports of foreign oil are skyrocketing, and this administration has failed to act.

As a result, America, more than ever, is at the mercy of foreign governments and cartels; at the mercy of big, foreign oil. On the Clinton-Gore watch, the American government has lost credibility with OPEC nations, including our Gulf War allies. We fought a war in defense of some of these countries, and today our standing with them is low, our needs are ignored.

On the Clinton-Gore watch, Saddam Hussein's Iraq has become a major supplier of oil to America. This means that one of our worst international enemies is gaining more and more control over our nation's economic future.

Now, just weeks before an election, this administration, in a calculated political move, has decided to tap crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Their plan calls for the release of 30 million barrels, about 36 hours worth of consumption in the United States economy. At best, we merely swap slightly lower prices before the election for higher prices after November the 7th.

But releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve also leaves our country even more vulnerable to foreign suppliers, including Saddam Hussein. Every barrel of strategic reserve we release today for political reasons is one less barrel we have for threats to our nation's security. The Strategic Reserve is meant for a foreign war or a major disruption in supply, not for national elections. It's a petroleum reserve, not a political reserve.

(APPLAUSE)

KAGAN: We've been listening to Texas Gov. George W. Bush as he talks about part of his energy policy proposals should he become president. The main part of the proposal, reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. That also includes proposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, also easing regulatory restrictions on building new refineries and giving tax credits over 10 years for folks who come up with alternatives to regular fossil fuel energy.

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