- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2005

President Bush yesterday scolded the Senate for not taking action on his long-stalled energy bill, warning lawmakers that failure to act soon will draw the ire of the American people.

“My advice is, they ought to keep this in mind: Summer is here, temperatures are rising, and tempers will really rise if Congress doesn’t pass an energy bill,” the president said. “The American people know that an energy bill will not change the price of gas immediately, but they’re not going to tolerate inaction in Washington as they watch the underlying problems grow worse.”

The House twice passed an energy package during Mr. Bush’s first term, but both times it was stopped in the Senate. The president’s $8 billion bill includes incentives to increase domestic production of crude oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and other energy sources. The Senate is expected to begin debate this week on the issue and is tentatively scheduled to vote on a bill by June 24.

In a speech yesterday at an Energy Efficiency Forum at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, Mr. Bush reiterated his four goals to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil:

• Improve conservation and efficiency;

• Produce and refine more crude oil in the United States;

• Develop alternative energy sources; and

• Help fast-growing nations like China and India consume less oil.

Mr. Bush also repeated his call for lawmakers to approve oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), saying the 1 million barrels per day the site will provide could help the United States as it transitions from “a hydrocarbon economy to a hydrogen economy.”

“Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American dream — and that tax is growing every year,” Mr. Bush said. “Now is the time. Now is the time to stop the debate and the partisan bickering and pass an energy bill,” he said.

The Senate did make one small decision yesterday on energy, backing a plan to double the use of corn-blended ethanol in gasoline by 2012. The additive makes gasoline burn more cleanly and can be used as the sole fuel in specially modified engines.

Said Mr. Bush: “We’re pretty good about growing corn here in America. Therefore, it makes sense to promote ethanol as an alternative to foreign sources of oil.”

Mr. Bush wants Congress to send him a final energy bill before adjourning for a summer recess around Aug. 1.

Offering rare praise for France, which vehemently opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Mr. Bush said the United States should strive to be more like the European nation when it comes to nuclear power.

“America has not ordered a nuclear-power plant since the 1970s. France, by contrast, has built 58 plants in the same period of time — and today, France gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from safe, low-cost nuclear power. It’s time for America to start building again,” the president said.

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