Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. President Bush delivered his annual State of the Union address this week, calling on lawmakers --and the American public -- to give his new Iraq strategy a chance to work.
With Democrats controlling Congress for the first time in his six-year presidency, it's not surprising that bi-partisanship was a major theme of the speech.
Other elements of the address were equally predictable. Since the Arab oil embargo in 1973, about two-thirds of "State of the Union" addresses have proposed "solutions" to America's energy issues. The result? The U.S. now imports more than 60 percent of its oil -- nearly twice the amount of the early 70s.
Nevertheless, as the president acknowledged the new power broker in the House, he too proposed alternative fuel production as a remedy for America's growing dependence on foreign oil.
Though the president's speech was dominated by pleas for continued support of the war in Iraq, a significant portion was devoted to energy policy.
President George W. Bush: "Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States buy 20 percent in the next 10 years."
In his historic "20 in 10" plan, the president proposed a combination of efforts including a massive increase in renewable fuel production.
President George W. Bush: "To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target."
No one was more pleased with the president's proposal than Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Grassley described the agenda as both ambitious and realistic. The farm state lawmaker called it the only way to wean America off foreign sources of energy.
Ethanol proponents also liked the plan.
Referring to the proposal as a goal that makes sense for America, the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol advocacy group, says "20 in 10" is an eminently achievable goal if the President is able to create consistent and focused policies. The National Corn Growers Administration feels the president's initiative builds on the corn-based ethanol platform that exists today.
The key to the plan, that has rural Americans excited, is the $3.6 billion in funds for research and development. The administration is calling for $1.6 billion over the next 10 years to be allocated for cellulosic ethanol research and $2 billion for the construction of cellulosic ethanol refineries.
President George W. Bush: ""America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our live less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."