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Special Event

Al Gore Advocates Environmentally, Economically Safe Energy Policies

Aired September 29, 2000 - 11:41 a.m. ET

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

KAGAN: We're at Chevy Chase, Maryland; here is Vice President Al Gore talking about energy and the economy.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: ... Mike Miller, friends, there are all kinds of distinguished guests here.

I came here today to talk about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. Terry Learman, thank you for being here.

(APPLAUSE)

Yesterday I talked about the responsible choices we have to make on the economy, about the need to choose the hard right over the easy wrong, so we can build a strong and growing economy for the long haul.

Today, I want to focus on the right and responsible way to make sure America has a clean, secure and affordable energy future, while protecting the environment for generations to come. They are not at odds with one another.

For me, this issue has always been fundamental. I believe that pollution should never be the price of prosperity. I believe that we don't have to degrade our environment in order to secure our energy future. And that is one of the most important differences in this election.

The other side now proposes to misuse high oil prices as an excuse to let oil companies invade precious natural treasures like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will not let that happen.

(APPLAUSE)

I will fight for consumers, who deserve a reliable, affordable supply of energy and I will fight for all Americans, who deserve to have our environment protected against those who would set the oil companies loose in the most beautiful, fragile parts of our nation.

Our opponents would have us choose between a clean environment and energy security. That is a false and outdated choice; we can achieve both if we make responsible decisions. Today, we have the greatest chance in our lifetimes to create the America of our ideals. To make sure the prosperity enriches not just the few, but all our families. We have a chance to create and sell to the world the new technologies that will give us a healthier, stronger, more prosperous planet -- like new technologies, like cleaner cars and trucks that can go 80 miles per gallon. That's the future we can have.

But we'll never get there if we are weighed down by old-fashioned energy policies and held back by those who want to put short-term profits over the long-term interests of our economy and our families.

Last week, crude oil prices reached a 10-year high. If you drove an automobile here today, then you know what that means for the price of gasoline. If you are one of the families now starting to stock up on home heating oil for the winter, then you are facing a double squeeze. And the significance a sudden, sharp, increase in oil prices goes beyond even this, to the strength of our entire economy.

A spike in oil prices can have the potential to set off inflationary pressures, lead to slower growth and impose higher production costs on business. Strong economic leadership demands swift and decisive action to deal with emerging threats to our prosperity, even when that action is controversial.

The fact is, oil company profits have more than doubled while consumers have paid much more at the pump and businesses have paid much more just to stay in business.

Several months ago, I called for an investigation into oil company pricing in the Midwest. Last week, I called on the oil companies to behave more responsibly. I called on OPEC nations to honor their agreements and increase oil production as they had promised to do. And, I called for a series of national measures in the short-term, because families who have to heat their homes this winter can't wait for the long-term.

Last week, I urged Congress to create a permanent home heating oil reserve to provide continuing help in our coldest regions. I'm asking Congress to increase annual heating assistance for low income families and I supported a series of oil swaps from our nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Companies that receive oil now from the reserve will return that amount, and more, to the reserve at a later date. The nation will have greater oil supplies now, and our national reserve will have even more oil in the years ahead.

I was criticized for this policy, but I became convinced that waiting had not worked and inaction was no longer an option; and any political heat that was generated is a lot less important than the heat families need this winter; and there are now signs that we're making some progress.

Oil prices in the last week have fallen by $6 a barrel; about 20 percent. And the economic ministers of the G-7, the world's major industrial nations, have formally welcomed this policy for its contribution to the stability of the global economy. So I believe these short-term measures of vital; but I believe they represent a first step. The beginning, not the end, of a continuing and essential effort to achieve real, long-term energy independence. If we -- the simple fact is that, if we take a hard look at this, we can realize, we don't have to accept a future of old engines and old power plants that waste too much energy and cause too much pollution, making our air less healthy and our climate less stable. We don't have to build our lives around a fuel source that is distant, uncertain and too easily manipulated.

(APPLAUSE)

KAGAN: We've been listening to Vice President Al Gore from Chevy Chase, Maryland. Both presidential candidates, today, stomping on energy policy.

Earlier we heard from Texas Governor George W. Bush, whose main point is America needs to decrease its dependence on foreign oil. Vice President Al Gore, of course, last week, suggested that reserves from the federal petroleum reserve be released to help bring down the cost of oil, home heating oil and gasoline.

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