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White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer Addresses Rising Energy Prices

Aired May 7, 2001 - 13:14   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And we're going to switch now live to the White House. Spokesman Ari Fleischer is talking about gasoline prices, which we've been discussing here.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... into the hands of consumers so they can make the choices that they want to make as they live their lives day to day.

QUESTION: So Americans should go on consuming as much/more energy than any other citizens in any other country of the world (OFF- MIKE)

FLEISCHER: The president believes that the American people are very wise, and that, given the right incentives, they will know how -- they will make their own right determinations about how much they can conserve, just as the president announced last week that the federal government, as part of its consumership in California will reduce energy needs, for example, the Department of Defense facilities in California, by 10 percent.

He believes the American people, too, will make the right decisions about conservation. And the program he will announce shortly will also include a series of conservation items.

The president also believes that the American people's use of energy is a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy. And he wants to make certain that a national energy policy is comprehensive, that it includes conservation, includes a way of allowing the American people to continue to enjoy the way of life that has made the United States such a leading nation in the world.

QUESTION: What do you recommend, then, to people as a president exercising his moral leadership, that they're more conscious of the amount of energy they use, that they scale back, that people conserve more?

FLEISCHER: I think you will hear a rounded and comprehensive proposal very shortly from the president that includes several items that hint at what you're suggesting. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) conservation in selling the energy plan, the reality is that the core of this plan to be unveiled is a call on finding more energy supplies, and everybody has emphasized that. There's a growing chorus now of not just environmental activists, but also scientists within the government who say that in fact, conservation and renewable energies could do a lot more to cut demand than is being given for, or even being given a try. Do you dismiss the recent DOE study that came to that conclusion?

FLEISCHER: No, we do not dismiss it, but you can't prejudge what the president is going to propose because you don't know what he is going to propose in terms of conservation.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) really core outlines (OFF-MIKE).

FLEISCHER: There's also a reflection of the fact that 88 percent of America's energy comes from fossil fuels. The remaining 12 percent comes from renewables, biomass, wind, solar. It's a very small percentage, and among that 12 percent, you also have nuclear in that mix.

So the amount of energy that can come from -- let me put it to you this way: The place that the American people get most of their energy that we are dependent on to preserve the American way of life, does come from fossil fuels.

Now, within the remaining portion of the energy that the American people use, the president is committed to a conservation program to help Americans to conserve more. And that's reflected in the president's priorities.

The weatherization program in his budget, for example, could help people have more energy-efficient homes, and it will also be reflected in some of the things you're going to learn in the next week or two when the president unveils his policy.

Conservation is, indeed, an important part of getting America energy-independent. Conservation alone is not the answer. Nothing alone is the answer and that's why the president's proposal will be a very well-rounded one.

ALLEN: All right, Ari Fleischer talking about the energy shortage in this country, saying that the country will learn more about the president's plan when he unveils his energy policy.

But, again, the news today is: gasoline prices again at an all- time high. The White House has said there's very little short term they can do about that. And, as we mentioned, a gallon of gas in Chicago is $2.02. So it's kind of getting rough for a lot of folks out there.

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