Iowa Public Television


Bush Calls for Energy Reform

posted on April 29, 2005

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Government reports this week revealed more evidence that soaring energy prices and weakened consumer and business spending are taking their toll on the U.S. economy.

According to the Commerce Department Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of the economy, grew by an annual rate of just 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2005. Thats its slowest rate of growth in two years.

Meanwhile, orders for big-ticket manufactured goods plunged 2.8 percent in March, marking the largest decline in two-and-a-half years.

And the number of people signing up for initial unemployment benefits rose by 21,000 last week.

While the unemployment line got longer last week, economists say the U.S. is in a period of moderate job growth. But soaring energy prices clearly have politicians concerned.

And in several speeches this week, President Bush proposed a series of reforms aimed at boosting U.S. energy production.

Bush Calls for Energy Reform President George W. Bush: "Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of high gasoline prices"

Hitting on all the hot-button energy issues, President Bush again made the called on Congress to reform the current U.S. energy policy.

President George W. Bush: "For the past decade, America's energy consumption has been growing about 40 times faster than our energy production. That means we're relying on more energy produced abroad."

With oil prices near the $50 a barrel mark, and consumption continuing to exceed domestic supply, the administration is promoting the development of alternative energy sources. To reduce the growing distance between supply and demand, President Bush is proposing several changes to current energy policy including:

- Making it easier to license new nuclear power plants.

-Providing incentives for the construction of petroleum refineries.

-Putting more money into research for hydrogen fuel cells.

-And increasing the production of ethanol.

The ethanol industry has profited from the federal and state economic incentive it has received over the past two decades. The monetary encouragement has put a few more dollars into the hands of some farmers and billions of gallons of the corn-based fuel in gas tanks across the U.S.. Earlier this year, ethanol production hit an all time high of 245 thousand barrels per day and last year the industry produced a record 3.4 billion gallons.

Though environmentalists and farmers count themselves among those who are pro-ethanol, there are those who do not favor the use of the grain-based fuel. The California Air Resources Board has long been an opponent of ethanol. In a recently released preliminary report authored by the Air Resources Board, test results indicated ethanol was a potential net-polluter when compared to gasoline without the renewable fuel additive.

The House has already passed its version of the energy bill but the Senate has yet to take up the issue. Sticking points in the proposed measure include a reduction of liability for MTBE producers and allowing drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The president has requested the legislation make it to his desk before the summer recess begins in August.

Tags: energy policy George W. Bush news presidents reform