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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 12, 2006

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino and Senior Administration Officials
Aboard Air Force One
En Route St. Louis, Missouri

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
J.D. Crouch, Deputy National Security Advisor

11:36 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. We are on our way to St. Louis, Missouri, and then we're going to go to Chicago. So we are leaving sunshine and headed into the snow. So that's your weather forecast. Let me tell you that the President this morning had his normal briefings. He had a call to Prime Minister Howard of Australia. That call was read out this morning. Did everyone get that, or would you like me to repeat it here?

He will -- the President will give the keynote address at the renewable energy conference. This is a joint conference sponsored by Department of Energy and the United States Department of Agriculture, so Secretaries Bodman and Johanns. The title of the conference is the 2006 Advancing Renewable Energy conference. We expect approximately 1,400 attendees.

And then at 5:20 p.m., after we get to Chicago, the President will make remarks at Roskam for Congress, David McSweeney for Congress 2006, and an Illinois Congressional Victory Committee. And then we -- the President will arrive back at the White House at 9:40 p.m.

I want to let you know that I brought -- I brought Jim Connaughton back. He's the President's -- Assistant to the President and the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

There was also a meeting today that I'm trying to get a little bit more information on. I'm going to come back at the end of the flight with a little bit more. State Councilor Tang of China visited the White House today. President Hu informed the President on Monday in their phone call that President Tang was going to be in town -- I'm sorry, that State Councilor Tang was going to be in town. And the Councilor met with Secretary Rice and Hadley before going to the Oval Office to meet with the President. J.D. Crouch is on the flight. I'm going to be getting some more information from him, and then I'll come back and try to give you some more on that.

Right now, let me give Jim Connaughton a chance to give you a quick rundown on the events for this morning, and then I'll take other questions before I come back later.

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Good morning, everybody. I'm Jim Connaughton, the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and I advise the President on energy and environment/natural resource issues.

Today's conference is being hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Secretary Johanns, and the Department of Energy, Sam Bodman, but it will also include speeches by EPA Administrator Steve Johnson, and a significant number of administration officials, that are focused on the implementation of the President's Advanced Energy Initiative, which includes a very strong emphasis on renewable energy technologies, both in terms of how we power transportation systems, as well as how we power homes, businesses and offices.

Today's speech will be very technology focused. There are many other policy arenas in this subject area, but this will be very focused on the technologies. Now the agency leaders are putting an emphasis on the promise for even more vibrant rural economies through the instillation of the facilities and the development of the technologies that allow us to reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy, especially oil, and allow us to create more diversified opportunities for different fuel sources, for different kinds of vehicles, as well as for vehicles and fuels that don't involve gasoline or petroleum-type products at all.

So we will be talking about -- the President will be talking today about where we are going with hybrids, where we are going with a new generation of clean diesels -- which has been enabled by the fact that starting this weekend, all diesel fuel in America will have cut its sulphur dioxide by more than 95 percent. That will enable a new breed of diesel engines that will be more than 90 percent reduced in nitrogen oxide, and create a platform for diesels in passenger cars and in light trucks like pickup trucks that we haven't seen before, and will promote significant fuel efficiency.

Now with hybrids and clean diesels, we then can look to plug-in hybrids -- just to give you an example on plug-in hybrids, I drove one last week, one of the few prototypes that's out there in the United States today. It got 156 miles per gallon -- and the opportunity to take our advances in hybrids and move to move to plug-ins is a huge opportunity. All of these technologies will enable a switch to renewable fuels, initially ethanol, increasingly biodiesel, and then ultimately, consistent with the President's State of the Union initiative, cellulosic ethanol, that can be made from a wide variety of plant materials and plant waste materials.

As of today, since the President took office, we've increased the nation's consumption of ethanol three times, and we've seen biodiesel go from almost no production to nearly a billion gallons of production. And then, of course, the President has spoken often over the last five years about hydrogen, and we are well, well along in the $1.2 billion initiative to produce hydrogen fuel.

On powering our homes, businesses and offices, the President, over the course of the last several years, has placed a strong emphasis on the need for efficiency and conservation. Today's remarks will focus on the technologies that makes greater efficiency conservation and more effective use of energy possible.

One area of high importance, of course, is solar and wind. In America, since the President took office, we have tripled our production of wind energy. And in fact, this year, the nation -- the United States has installed more wind than any other country, more wind power.

We also have a solar initiative as part of the Advanced Energy Initiative, which is trying to dramatically cut the cost of solar.

Now, with in some of the bigger base-load technologies, the President will be discussing nuclear and the new global nuclear energy partnership which seeks to create an international effort to reduce the -- to recycle more nuclear material, spent nuclear fuel, so we reduce dramatically the amount of waste that needs to handled and to do so in partnership with countries that responsibly produce nuclear power and responsibly manage the waste, and responsibly avoid proliferation issues.

In addition, the President will talk about clean coal. The first step to clean coal is more efficient coal; the second step is to cut the pollution from coal, which we'll be doing by nearly 70 percent, which will result in a nearly $50 billion investment in new clean coal technologies at our power plants. And then the significant new funding in the President's Advanced Energy Initiative to take us to zero-emission coal.

This is all part of a bigger picture of international engagement. The last two G8s have focused very specifically on energy security and the related issues of cutting air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with climate change. And we will expect that conversation to carry forward at this upcoming G8 hosted by Germany. As part of that, there's a strong international engagement on renewable fuels.

The U.K., for example, has gone from nearly no renewable fuels and substantially increased their current use of renewable fuels and have a strong new mandate for renewable fuels. And then we have international efforts underway, for example, on how to capture methane from agricultural operations and from landfills to produce clean-burning energy at a significant profit.

This also takes form in a significant set of energy initiatives in the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which includes China, India, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

MS. PERINO: Any questions for Jim?

Q Is there anything new, any new announcements or new programs in the speech today that the President hasn't talked about before?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Today the President will be highlighting the remarkable progress we've made since we've been implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that he signed last year, as well as the recent milestones related to his Advanced Energy Initiative. So you'll be getting a very significant progress report on how far we've come, and then where we're heading.

MS. PERINO: Great. Any other questions for me?

Q Are you coming back to gaggle again, or --

MS. PERINO: I'm going to try to get some more information about the meeting that I mentioned, with State Councilor Tang, so I can get a readout about how that meeting went. Obviously, the President wanted to meet with this gentleman because of the ongoing discussions with our partners in the six-party talks, and since he was in town -- I just need to get an update from them and then I'll try to come back on that.

Q Did he call Howard or did Howard call him this morning -- Prime Minister Howard?

MS. PERINO: The phone call was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. I don't know who placed the call. If I can get that for you, I'll come back. Okay, we'll be back.

* * * * *

DR. CROUCH: What I thought I would do is give you a little background today on the meeting that occurred. We had Chinese State Councilor Tang here. He had a meeting with the Secretary of State and the National Secretary Advisor, and then followed by a meeting with the President in the Oval Office. I think this was a good example of the high level of consultations that exist between the U.S. and China on the North Korean issue.

President Bush had spoken with President Hu of China, as you know, earlier, and President Hu had said that he would be dispatching State Councilor Tang to come and brief on Chinese thinking on the North Korean situation.

So it was a good set of meetings, we exchanged views. I think we've got a very positive way forward. Everybody agrees that we have to deal with the -- this North Korean nuclear test, we have to have a resolution in New York and that we're going to have to take some strong measures to convince the North Koreans that the true path for their future really is to get back to discussions, to implement the September 2004 joint statement and to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. So there was a broad set of agreement. I think that agreement is shared not only with our friends in China, but also, of course, with our allies in Japan, with similar statements that have been made both by Prime Minister Abe and, of course, by President Roh of the Republic of Korea.

So there's a strong basis now, I think, for moving forward in New York. And, obviously, the President has, through the Secretary of State, has instructed Ambassador Bolton to move forward with a resolution in New York.

Q Did the Chinese State Councilor -- did Mr. Tang specifically say that China would go along with measures as strong as the United States would like to see in that U.N. resolution?

DR. CROUCH: We're still discussing the details of what would be in a resolution. I think what's important -- and there was not a detailed discussion of the contents of that. That is obviously something that's going to be left for negotiation up in New York. But I do think that the Chinese came with a message that they agree that there had to be some strong measures that were taken to convince the North Koreans to get back on a positive negotiating track.

Q Can you tell us some specific things that were talked about? And can you tell us whether the President asked the State Councilor for China to do anything specifically?

DR. CROUCH: Obviously, there was a broad-ranging discussion not only about action up in New York, but about how we would work together to try to bring about a diplomatic resolution of this issue. And in particular, I think there was a strong emphasis both from the Chinese side and the U.S. side that we needed to find a way to get the North Koreans to implement their commitments under the September 2004 agreement to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

So there was -- there was discussion, obviously, not only about the resolution, which is one element of that, but what -- there might be diplomatic approaches that are made to do that and to make sure that we stayed in close coordination of our policies because it was really -- I think there is a general view that working among the five parties together we would be in a position to put maximum influence on North Korea to move in that direction.

So basically that was the main message. It was at a pretty general level, but they did -- I know that there is expectation that the details for the resolution, I think, will be worked out. The Secretary of State will obviously be talking to Ambassador Bolton and giving him some instructions.

Q Our reports out of China this morning said that the Chinese seem to be backing away from a travel ban and financial sanctions. Did they make that clear in that meeting? Did that come up?

DR. CROUCH: There wasn't a detailed discussion of specific elements of the resolution. As I said, there was a broad understanding that there needed to be strong response. And I think that the details of those are going to have to be negotiated -- obviously, negotiated out not only between the United States and China but among all the members of the Security Council.

Q But the problem is that your definition of strong measures and the Chinese definition of strong measures don't necessarily coincide. So when you say that they agreed that strong measures were needed, what exactly does that mean?

DR. CROUCH: I'm saying that at this point those things have to be negotiated out. I think it's a positive sign that we all agree that we need a resolution and that we need to have -- to go forward with strong measures.

Now, obviously, the details of that, there's possibility for differences. But those things are the kinds of things that get worked out in the context of those negotiations. But I think it's a very major step and a positive step that we now have all the major players in this arguing, in fact, for a strong resolution.

Q The meeting -- sorry, how long was the meeting?

DR. CROUCH: I think the meeting -- I want to say the meeting with the President was about 15 minutes, and I think the meeting with the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor was probably about half an hour. That's right our negotiator Chris Hill was there, as well.

Q This gentleman was named as a special envoy, is that correct?

DR. CROUCH: I'm sorry. I can't hear you.

Q He was named as a special envoy, right? Tang?

DR. CROUCH: Tang -- his title is State Councilor, which my understanding in their system is a very senior -- it's a super Cabinet position.

Q Sounds like an envoy.

DR. CROUCH: It's Councilor with a C. And it's a very high ranking position.

Q You have a good historical sense of the Clinton administration and the bilateral agreement in 1994. Can you just talk for a minute about why that didn't work, and why this is different right now, what President Clinton is doing -- I mean, President Bush is doing, and how we can move this forward with the six-party talks?

DR. CROUCH: Well, if you go back to the 1990s, it's important to remember that throughout the '90s we judged that there was a nuclear weapons program that they had developed, I believe back when he was CIA Director in the last administration, CIA Director Tenet briefed that we believed they had material for one to two nuclear weapons, we believed they had an ongoing weapons program. And so that was really the genesis of the concern about this.

If you look at sort of the history of that, basically the Clinton administration entered into a set of largely bilateral discussions which ended with the -- something called the "Agreed Framework." The Agreed Framework did not eliminate those weapons, it did not eliminate the -- for example, the spent fuel that had been taken out of the Yongbyon reactor, but it essentially was a freeze in place of that, and a commitment by the North Koreans that if the international community -- when the international community provided heavy fuel oil and the construction of two very large light water reactors, that they would allow, then, the IAEA to come back in and they would allow -- they would come back into compliance with the NPT.

So it's important to understand that throughout this entire period, effectively, the North Koreans are outside compliance of the NPT, and outside compliance of the IAEA safeguards agreement, all right? So this agreement was put in place. I don't know the exact numbers, but I think the international community, including the United States, spent over a billion dollars, maybe even over $2 billion implementing this agreement, including provisions of heavy fuel oil and the beginning of construction of light water reactors, two 1,000 megawatt light water reactors in North Korea.

There were already some indications that -- by the end of the '90s that they weren't living up to this agreement. There was diversions of fuel oil and there were some other aspects of this. And you'll remember that when the Bush administration first came in, the Agreed Framework was in place, it was moving forward. And I believe it was sometime in 2002 that some very powerful evidence emerged -- or crystallized, is a better way -- that they had been pursuing a uranium enrichment program, separate from the plutonium path to the bomb that the Agreed Framework had focused on.

Now, that uranium enrichment program was not only a violation of the Agreed Framework, it was also a violation of the North-South Denuclearization Agreement, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, and the Nonproliferation Treaty. And it was at that time that the administration moved away from implementation of the Agreed Framework because we had clear evidence that the North Koreans were not honoring that agreement; in fact, were not even honoring the central commitment of that agreement, which was to give up their nuclear weapons program.

The other thing that's important to remember is that during the 1990s there was a real effort to develop an approach that was bilaterally focused. And when we looked at this issue, we thought that the most -- first of all, it was an international issue; it was not something that was really an issue between the United States and North Korea, it had a broad impact in the region. It affected our allies' security -- Japan, the Republic of Korea, and obviously, would have an impact on China. And so we thought it was very important to multilateralize these discussions on a substantive level.

On a leverage level, if you look at who were the countries that had the most leverage on North Korea, obviously it was a combination of the international community, the force of the U.N., but also in particular, the close relationships with the Republic of Korea and China. So it was important to make sure that they were brought into the process. And I think the success so far has been our ability to bring all these parties together to get them focused on a common set of objectives and to now, unfortunately, after this alleged -- potential test, to get them to put pressure on the North Koreans to fulfill their commitments.

I think it's a different approach. And if you think about the '90s, a great deal of effort was spent -- the Secretary of State, during the '90s, went to Pyongyang and had a series of meetings. I think she met with Kim Jong-il. There was a lot of bilateral effort, there was a lot of effort to try to provide energy capabilities for the North Koreans. And that effort really didn't work, because by the late '90s and certainly by the discovery of this uranium enrichment program, it was pretty clear that the North Koreans were continuing to develop nuclear weapons and a nuclear capability.

Q Thank you very much.

END 12:41 P.M. EDT