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 Home > News & Policies > March 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 2, 2001

Remarks by the President and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham in Swearing-In Ceremony
The Oval Office

2:02 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome the Secretary and his family. I forgot that he and I were members of the father's of twins club. (Laughter.) Jane, it's good to see you. I want to welcome you all here. We look forward to having a picture taking session next door after our brief remarks.

Two months ago, in Austin, I announced my intention to nominate Senator Spence Abraham as the Energy Secretary. He's obviously since then been confirmed by the Senate. His performance in office has already confirmed that I chose the right man for the job.

Secretary Abraham knows energy policy. He understands the many challenges and opportunities before us. Today, we are seeing the consequences of going too long without an energy policy. Many Americans are struggling with the high cost of energy. People who live in the West face a major energy shortage, which has caused rising prices and growing uncertainty. I have asked federal agencies to work with California officials to bring more energy to the people of that state, as quickly as possible. Also I've asked Secretary Abraham to work with Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Commerce Evans, and other senior officials to develop a comprehensive energy policy for the United States.

Our objective should not only be to manage the current situation, but to avoid any crisis in the first instance. This requires a four-part strategy; first to make energy security a priority of our foreign policy, by restoring American credibility with overseas suppliers and building strong relationships with energy-producing nations in our hemisphere. Second, to encourage environmentally-friendly exploration and production of domestic energy sources, like oil, natural gas and coal. Third, to promote the production of electricity, to keep pace with America's growing demands. Fourth, to support the development of cost-effective alternative energy sources.

The goals of this strategy are clear, to ensure a steady supply of affordable energy for America's homes and businesses and industries, and to work toward the day when America achieves energy independence.

It was in the state of Michigan that I first pledged a comprehensive energy policy for our country. This afternoon, I welcome to the Cabinet a proud son of Michigan, a grandson of immigrants, and a good man.

Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY ABRAHAM: Mr. President, I just want to thank you, and I want to thank you, Mr. Vice President. I consider it a great honor to be able to serve in your Cabinet. And I look forward to working with both of you, as well as to my fellow Cabinet members, to insure that your agenda for America is successfully enacted.

I also want to thank my family, many of whom are in this room, and many have come to Washington for this ceremony this weekend, without whose support and whose love I would not be here today. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate all you have done for me, and to express my love to all of you.

This is an exciting time for the Department of Energy. And I just want to say that I have been very impressed with the outstanding people, the employees at DOE.

However, whether it's developing a long-term national energy policy or insuring the success of our defense programs, we have many challenges before us. I am confident, though, that the legacy of the Bush administration will be one where we have successfully met those challenges and put in place a long-term program that protects America's economic and national security by insuring our energy security, as the President has outlined today.

Mr. President, thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, do you have time for questions, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.)

Q You're going to Camp David a lot. Can you tell us why you like going there, what you do when you're up there?

THE PRESIDENT: I guess I do. He's asking -- I'm going to Camp David, and I like to spend time with my family, and my brother, Marvin, and my sister, Dorothy will join us up there. It's a good place to relax, and it's also a good place to catch up on my work. I'm a little bit behind on my mail right now. But I intend, every chance I get to go -- if I'm not going to Crawford, and I don't have to give a speech here on the weekend, I'm going to go to Camp David.

Q Mr. President, some members of your own party are chafing at the idea of holding federal spending increases for --


Q What argument can you make --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know there's a lot of folks that are used to big spending. After all, the spending increases were very dramatic at the end of the last session. And my answer is, let's -- why don't we have some fiscal sanity in Washington. My budget increases the rate of growth in discretionary spending by 4 percent. And surely, Congress will be willing to work with the administration to bring -- to control the appetite by 4 percent.

And I believe when people are willing to take a hard look at setting priorities in different spending programs, we'll be able to meet that target, and thereby be able to send some of the surplus back to the people, which is an important part about making sure our economy gets a second wind. And it's an important part -- and this country has got to remember, the people up here in this -- have got to remember that this country, in this country, a lot of folks are paying high energy bills, and a lot of folks have got a lot of debt, personal debt. And if we're wise about how we spend money in Washington, we will enable people to have more money in their own pocket. And that would be wise economic policy.

Thank you.

Q Mr. Vice President, are you moving into your new house today?


END 2:09 P.M. EST