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 western states.
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 California.
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.