For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 9, 2001
Office of the Vice President
Radio Interview of the Vice President
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good time
to talk to you this afternoon.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The situation
in the west, clearly, has been the most strained of any area in the
country. A lot of that is because of California, because
they're so big and dominate that market. But it's also been
made worse by the situation in the Pacific Northwest, with one of the
driest years on record, with the minimal snowfall and, therefore, not
much capacity to generate hydro power this year.
But the combination of things plus the serious
foul ups in New Mexico, this really put a lot of pressure on those
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Pete and I have
talked about it, and the President. We believe that it is a
very viable way to go forward, in terms of generating
electricity. Today, one out of every five homes in America
has electric power generated by nuclear. And it's a good
technology; it works. It's clean, in the sense that there
aren't any emissions.
The ongoing problem, of course, has been
people haven't wanted to invest in it, so there haven't been any new
plants built in about 25 years. But a lot of the ones that are there
now are more efficient than they ever were before. A lot of
them need to be relicensed. The main problem we have, with
respect to nuclear power, is what to do with the spent fuel, and that's
an obligation the federal government has to resolve. But if
we can get that settled, then I think there will be utilities out there
willing to invest in new nuclear power plants and I think that would be
for the good of the country.
It also helps the global warming
problem. That is to say, because there are no greenhouse gas
emissions, nuclear power is probably the best way to go from the
standpoint of climate change.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We have
believed, and the President has advocated that we need to do more by
way of domestic production, especially with respect to natural
gas. Gas is a very popular fuel. Of course, the
prices have been very high this last winter; they've come down some
now, this spring. But a lot of the new electric plants that
are programmed for the future are expected to be
gas-fired. But that means we have to find the gas and
deliver it to the relative site.
There are areas of the country that are off
limits to development, and that's probably as it should
be. We're not advocating that we should remove all
restrictions, by any means. But, for example, off the west
coast of Florida -- generally, off the coast of Florida there has been
a moratorium and no drilling activity; same off the coast of
The Gulf of Mexico, on the other hand, Texas,
Louisiana, that part of the country, fortunately, has been an area
where we found a lot of oil and gas resources and the people in those
states strongly support offshore drilling.
In Alaska, we're dealing with ANWR, with
Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. That's an area that we
think has significant oil potential under it. When the
Alaska Native Claims Act was passed back in the early '80s, it was with
the understanding that some day we might want to go look at the energy
resources under ANWR. That's about 19 million acres, roughly
the size of South Carolina. It may have very significant
reserves in it. But we need to go drill and develop that,
and we can do so, given today's technology, without damaging the
environment. We only need to disturb a very small part of
the surface, about 2,000 acres, in order to be able to get at 19
million acres worth of resource. So that's one we think we
ought to go forward with.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We are more
dependent than we've ever been on the international marketplace for
oil. In particular, we now import over 50 percent of the oil
we consume in this country, and we are the world's largest consumer of
oil. By 2020, we'll be consuming probably about two-thirds
from overseas sources. And most of the reserves in the world
are to be found in the Middle East. There are some, a few
other places -- there have been some significant finds in the
Caspian. Russia has a fair amount of reserves.
But the key to the future is what lies under
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, Iran, that Persian Gulf region, and it's
a very volatile and sometimes dangerous region, from the standpoint of
U.S. interests. And it's just a reminder why it's important
for us to develop domestic resources here at home. We'll
never eliminate our dependence on foreign sources, and shouldn't
try. But to the extent we can add incrementally to our
domestic production, that will give us more freedom and flexibility, in
terms of not being held hostage, if you will, to the vagaries of the
international oil market.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He has rattled
his sabre from time to time. I think he's, at this stage,
not a direct threat to the United States. The damage we did
to him back during the Gulf War was considerable, and he's never really
recovered from it.
But he's still in power and he clearly is out
to try to acquire additional weapons capabilities. We want
to refocus the sanctions that are in place and have been since the Gulf
War, to make certain he cannot acquire military technology and military
capabilities from outside. If he does, then he'll be a
threat once again, perhaps to his neighbors in the
region. So it's important that we maintain unity of the
coalition that forced him to evacuate Kuwait 10 years ago.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I just don't
think it's a valid criticism. And the fact of the matter is,
I've divested myself of all my holdings in Halliburton, where I was CEO
for sometime, for five years. But that experience gave me a
lot of, I think, useful experience in this particular job.
I think it's valuable to have people in
government who have done other things. I spent most of my
career in government in the Defense Department, and as a member of
Congress, White House Chief of Staff. I think all of those
experiences, plus my time as CEO of a major corporation, make me more
effective as George Bush's Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank
you. It's good to talk to you today.