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January 28, 2002
President Discusses Energy Plan in West Virginia
Excerpt from Presidential Remarks at Airport Welcome at the Charleston Regional Airport in Charleston, West Virginia
In order to grow our economy -- in order to grow our economy, we've got to have an energy plan. Believe it or not, we're the first administration in a long time that's developed a comprehensive energy plan.
On the one hand, it says we've got to do a good job of conservation. We've got to promote technologies that will enable people to have the same lifestyle without burning as much energy. We've got to figure out ways for our cars to burn less fuel, but be able to be comfortable and be able to let families drive all throughout West Virginia. We've got to conserve energy.
But conservation is only one half of the equation. In order to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, we've got to find and produce more energy at home, including coal. (Applause.)
I don't view the world as zero sum. I believe that we can have coal production and enhanced technologies in order to make sure the coal burns cleaner. I believe we can have both. Now, I know there are some in Washington who don't want to concede that. But they must not have much faith in the technology that's coming on line. I don't believe we can be independent as a nation unless we've got a constructive coal policy.
And so I asked Congress, once and for all, to pass a comprehensive energy plan, including exploring for natural gas in the state of Alaska so we can be less dependent. (Applause.)
The other day -- some of the most interesting meetings are taking place in Washington. The other day I was with Jimmy Hoffa. A lot of people say, well, he's a Republican, obviously he doesn't care about the union. That's not true at all, for starters. I care about working people. I don't care what label they put on them.
I don't care if they're a Democrat, Republican, independent, union, non-union; I want to find jobs for everybody. I'm the President of everybody, not just a few. And so I sat down with Jimmy, and we talked about -- (applause) -- and I was with the head of the Carpenters, and Seafarers, and construction people. And we're talking about jobs.
And he reminded me one reason he was so strong for the energy plan was not only because it was good for U.S. security -- he cares about U.S. security just like I care about U.S. security -- but because when we explore for energy in America, it means jobs for working people. This is just as much of a job program as it is an energy -- as a national security program, folks. And it's about time Congress skips all the politics and focuses on what's right for the American people. (Applause.) Congress is coming back -- Congress is coming back tomorrow to Washington. And my call to Congress is not let the year 2002 become a bitter, political year. Now, I know a lot of them are running for office, and that's fine. And I've got my favorites. (Laughter.) Like Shelley Moore. But anyway -- (applause.)
But there are some things that are more important than political party. The national security is more important than political party. And I appreciate the way Democrats and Republicans have worked together. Energy is more important than political party. Jobs are more important than political party. And we showed what's possible in Washington on the education bill.
We passed a good piece of legislation that says, public education is a cornerstone of job security. It's a cornerstone of hope. And the federal government is going to take an active role in promoting accountability, to make sure nobody gets left behind in America. (Applause.)