For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 25, 2002
11:05 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming today. I'm honored to be joined by Secretary of Energy Spence Abraham and Administrator Chrsite Todd Whitman of the Environmental Protection Agency.
We're here to discuss an energy plan, a comprehensive energy plan that recognizes that through technology we can increase our national security and economic security by reducing demand for petro chemicals and, at the same time, we can clean up the air in our country.
I want to thank these two leades for having a practical vision as to how to achieve common objectives. Any sound comprehensive energy policy must both increase production and reduce consumption. It's important for Americans to remember that as we debate an energy bill, as we have a discussion about an energy plan, that America imports more than 50 percent of its oil -- more than 10 million barrels a day. And the figure is rising.
This is dependence on foreign oil. And this dependence is a challenge to our economic security, because dependence can lead to price shocks and fuel shortages. And this dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. To put it bluntly, sometimes we rely upon energy sources from countries that don't particularly like us.
Now, it's also important to realize that the transportation sector consumes more than two-thirds of all the petroleum used in the United States, so that any effort to reduce consumption must include ways to safely make cars and trucks more fuel efficient. New technology is the best way to do so, and today we had a chance to see some of the best new technologies being developed by American ingenuity.
Hybrid cars, the likes of which we just saw over there, are already in existence. They run on a mixture of gas and electric power. They are several times more fuel efficient than most cars on the road today.
I was told by the representatives of the manufacturing companies that more and more hybrid cars will be available in the marketplace next year. And this is good news. It's good news for our environment, and it's good news for American consumers who are not only worried about the environment, but understand the ramifications of dependency on foreign sources of crude oil.
And then the fuel cells are being developed. Fuel cells will power cars with little or no waste at all. We happen to believe that fuel cells are the wave of the future; that fuel cells offer incredible opportunity.
Now, there's a lot of obstacles that must be overcome in order to make fuel cells economically viable. And, therefore, we're promoting more research and development. In January, Secretary Abraham announced a $150 million FreedomCAR plan, focused on development of fuel cell technologies that run on hydrogen, whose only emission is water vapor.
Imagine when that technology comes into being. Imagine how less dependent America will be on foreign sources of energy, and how more easy it'll be to clean up our air. And we've got plenty of water, and if water vapor is the product, we'll be in good shape. But we need to have a focused effort to bring fuel cells to market, and that's exactly what my administration is dedicated to do.
There's been some breakthroughs already. After all, NASA developed fuel cells to generate electricity, heat, and water in space vehicles. Businesses started using them in 1995. And that's why we are optimistic that within a reasonable period of time, that fuel-cell technology will become more widespread.
We've also, in the bill I submitted, made it clear that any good comprehensive energy plan must encourage consumption by providing over $3 billion of consumer tax credits, available for those who purchase hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles over the next 11 years. In other words, there is a role for the federal government, not only to encourage research and development, but a role to provide tax credits to enhance the marketplace.
Technologies will also enable us to preserve our environment as we explore for natural gas at home. And I urge the United States Senate to pass a comprehensive energy plan quickly. The House has acted, and now the Senate must act. And the Congress needs to get a bill to my desk.
The other feature about the energy bill that is important is that it's a jobs bill. That's why the Teamsters strongly support the energy package we submitted to the United States Congress. This is an important piece of legislation, and I urge quick action.
Thank you all very much.
END 11:12 A.M. EST