Bush prods Senate on energy policy
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With the Senate ready to take up energy legislation this week, President Bush made a pitch Monday for his energy package, which he said will create jobs and reduce dependence on oil imports.
"I urge the United States Senate to pass a comprehensive energy plan quickly," Bush said. "The House has acted, and now the Senate must act. And the Congress needs to get a bill to my desk."
Measures in Bush's plan to increase production, including opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, have run into opposition from Democrats on Capitol Hill.
But at a White House event Monday, the focus instead was on a part of Bush's plan designed to reduce consumption -- $3 billion in tax credits for people who buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.
"The transportation sector consumes more than two-thirds of all the petroleum used in the United States, so that any effort to reduce consumption must include ways to safely make cars and trucks more fuel efficient," Bush said. "New technology is the best way to do so."
Bush's energy plan passed the GOP-controlled House of Representatives largely intact despite criticism from environmentalists and some Democrats that it relies too much on increased production and does too little to encourage conservation and use of alternative fuels.
Bush's program, particularly the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil exploration, is expected to run into stronger opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
On Monday, Bush inspected vehicles parked outside the White House that are either powered by fuel cells, which use hydrogen and don't produce tailpipe emissions, or that run on a combination of gasoline and electricity -- so-called hybrid vehicles.
The vehicles, made by General Motors, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler, are expected on the market in about two years. Two other hybrid cars, from Toyota and Honda, are already available.
Bush said the tax credits would "enhance the marketplace" by encouraging consumers to buy vehicles that run on alternative power sources. He also noted an administration plan to invest $150 million in research on fuel cells, which he called "the wave of the future."
Bush again touted his energy plan as a necessity for national and economic security. He noted that more than 50 percent of the oil used in the United States is now imported.
"Dependence can lead to price shocks and fuel shortages," Bush said. "And this dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. To put it bluntly, sometimes we rely upon energy sources from countries that don't particularly like us."
CNN White House Producer Christie Brennan contributed to this report.
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