For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 9, 2005
Remarks by the President on Energy Policy
Franklin County veterans Memorial
2:08 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for the warm welcome. Thank you all. Thanks
very much. It's great to be back in the capital of Ohio. I have spent
some quality time here. (Laughter and applause.) I have a history in
Columbus: my grandfather, Prescott Bush, was raised right here. And
down the road, my maternal grandfather, Marvin Pierce, was raised in
Dayton, Ohio. I had to bring that up, otherwise Mother would call me.
I appreciate many of the great qualities of Columbus, Ohio. I
appreciate the fact that you take your sports seriously. (Laughter.)
You've got the mighty Buckeye football team. (Applause.) Understand
there's going to be an interesting inter-state clash next September the
11th -- mighty Longhorns will be coming up, make sure you treat them as
hospitably as you treated me. (Applause.) Looks like the basketball
team can play pretty well. (Applause.)
And this auditorium has its own sports tradition. Last weekend you
hosted Arnold Schwarzenegger's international bodybuilding competition.
(Applause.) When the Vice President heard I was coming, he asked me to
pick up an application form for next year's competition. (Laughter.)
Matter of fact, the last time I was in Columbus, I was introduced by
Arnold. Yes. (Applause.) My, have times changed. (Laughter.) Now I
get introduced by Bodman, who is going to make a great Secretary of
Energy, but not such a good bodybuilder. (Laughter.) But I appreciate
your willingness to serve, Sam. We've got a lot to do.
And that's what I'm here to talk about: the importance of a sound
national energy policy. Today, I visited a fascinating company called
Battelle. Really interesting place. (Applause.) The workers there
have a motto. They call it "the business of innovation." Pretty
interesting, isn't it? The business of innovation -- to me, it defines
the entrepreneurial spirit which exists in that building. The spirit
says there's nothing we can't do by working together. That's what it
says. There are important problems to solve in America, and why don't
we just put our minds to it, to use our skills and our talents to come
up with innovative ways to deal with the energy challenges of today and
tomorrow. That's what I saw at Battelle.
People in Washington can learn from that example. We need to work
together in Washington. We have had four years of debate about a
national energy bill: Now is the time to get the job done.
I want to thank the members of Congress who have joined us today.
Pat Tiberi, appreciate you coming, Congressman. And Dave Hobson.
(Applause.) Very nice of them to take the afternoon off. They flew
down on Air Force One, and they're flying back on Air Force One. It's
a convenient way to travel, isn't it, guys? (Laughter.) I look
forward to continuing to talk to you about Ohio and its needs and
issues. I'm proud my friend -- the Governor is here. Governor Taft,
thanks for coming. It's good to see you again. Appreciate you being
I know the Speaker is here. And I had the honor -- Speaker, good
to see you. I had the honor of meeting the leader of the Senate out at
Air Force One. I want to thank all the House folks who are here. I
want to thank the local and -- the local officials who are here. I
want to thank the industry and business leaders who are here. This is
a subject that should interest you, whether or not we've got the
capability of working together to come up with a national energy plan.
I want to thank the good folks at Battelle -- Carl Kohrt and Mort
Collins, Bill Madia. I want to thank all the employees who were so
gracious to me and Sam. I want to thank Greg Frank. I want to thank
you all for coming. I appreciate your interest in your country and its
Today, when I landed, I met Betty Cheney. Betty is a volunteer
with a local Big Brothers-Big Sisters program. She mentors a 5th grade
girl. She takes time out of her life to make America a better place by
lending her talent and love to help somebody.
The reason I bring that up, there's a lot of talk about the might
of the United States of America, and we are mighty and we are
influential. We'll keep using our influence to spread freedom and
peace. (Applause.) We'll use our influence to protect the homeland;
we'll continue to work to grow our economy, which is what I'm here to
talk about. But the true might of America is not the size of our
military or the size of our wallet, it is the size of our hearts.
(Applause.) The fact that Betty Cheney has heard a call to love a
neighbor like she would like to be loved herself is indicative of the
true strength of America. Betty, I want to thank you for setting a
great example by serving in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, by mentoring
a child. If you want to serve your nation, if you want to be a part of
a hopeful America, feed the hungry, find shelter for the homeless, love
somebody who hurts and together we can change America one heart and one
soul at a time. (Applause.)
As the people of Ohio know too well, our economy has faced historic
challenges. Over the past four years, we've had a stock market
decline. We faced a recession, we had a terrorist attack, we've had
ongoing war. But we've confronted those challenges head on with good
economic policy. And, today, our economy is the fastest-growing of any
major industrialized nation. Last Friday, we got more hopeful news
about the American economy: America created more than 260,000 new jobs
in February; we have now added 3 million jobs over the last 21 months
and more Americans are working today than at any time in our nation's
I want to assure you that we will not rest. We know there are
parts of the country which still struggle; parts of Ohio still
struggle. Manufacturing communities were hit hard here in this state.
I listened very carefully to the workers and small business owners and
local officials as I traveled your state last fall. And we're making
-- I know you're working hard to recover. And there are some positive
signs when it comes to manufacturing: factory output grew at its
fastest rate in five years. That's positive for workers here in Ohio.
But there's more to do.
This country must be the best place in the world to do business, to
make sure that people can find work. We need legal reforms. The
scales of justice must be balanced and fair. (Applause.) And we're
making progress. I signed a class-action reform bill which will help
make sure that people aren't driven out of work. I'm hopeful we'll get
an asbestos bill that will make sure those folks who have been harmed
by asbestos actually get paid, without driving good employers out of
One of the messages I heard here in Ohio is you're losing too many
OB/GYNs because of frivolous and junk lawsuits. We need national
medical liability reform now, and Congress must deliver. (Applause.)
We'll continue to open up markets for Ohio products, but make sure the
playing field is level. We'll make sure tax policy is reasonable and
fair on our entrepreneurs. We don't need to be raising taxes. Taxes
need to remain low so people feel comfortable about investing.
I'm going to continue to work on Social Security. Social Security
is an important issue. It's an important issue because we've got
unfunded liabilities that run in the trillions. This is debt to future
generations of Americans. Unless we do something about it, we're not
going to be able to pay for it without wrecking the economy. I want
all seniors here and seniors listening to know that nothing will change
for you. You will get your Social Security check. The government will
keep its promise. I don't care about the political rhetoric. I don't
care what the flyers may tell you, or the TV ads, you're going to get
your check. (Applause.)
But because baby boomers like me will start retiring in 2008 --
(laughter) -- when I'm 62 years old, and because there's a lot of us,
and because we're living longer than a previous generation, and because
we have been promised more benefits than the previous generation and
because there are fewer workers paying into the system to pay for
people like me, younger workers need to be worried about whether or not
they're going to be able to have a retirement safety net of their own.
Grandmothers and grandfathers need to be worried about their
grandchildren when it comes to Social Security. I have put the issue
on the table because I believe the President must confront problems and
not pass them on to future Presidents and future generations.
And I'm going to talk about this issue a lot. And I welcome
Republican ideas, and I welcome Democrat ideas. It is time for us to
set aside the partisan bitterness of Washington, D.C. and come together
and make sure there's a Social Security system for young Americans.
In order to make sure we have a growing economy, in order to make
sure people can find work, in order to make sure the entrepreneurial
spirit is strong in America we need affordable, reliable, secure
supplies of energy. And that's what I want to talk about today.
Everybody who drives a car or runs a farm understands the
importance of energy. Every small business, which dreams about
expanding his or her -- every small business owner which dreams about
expanding his or her own job base, worries about energy. Families
worry about energy. And higher prices at the gas pump and rising home
heating bills and the possibility of blackout are legitimate concerns
for all Americans. And all these uncertainties about energy supply are
a drag on our economy. It is difficult for entrepreneurs to risk
capital when they cannot predict the size of next month's energy bill.
If small businesses have the choice between adding a new worker or
keeping the machines running, they're not going to do much hiring.
As you learned here in Ohio in the summer of 2003, it's hard to
plan with confidence if you're not sure the lights are going to stay
on. During my second week as President, as Sam pointed out, I put
together a task force to address America's energy challenges. Energy
consumption was growing, costs were rising, we had an unreliable power
grid, and we were dependent on foreign energy. This task force sent
back a hundred recommendations to improve energy policy, and we put
some of them into effect: I mean, we streamlined the permit process to
encourage exploration for oil and gas; we filled the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve to improve our security during a time of war; we
promoted new forms of energy conservation at government facilities; we
increased weatherization assistance by nearly 50 percent to help more
low-income families insulate their homes and save on their heating
bills. We've done some practical commonsense things.
But I readily concede, these are first steps. This country must do
more, and it requires legislative approval by the United States
Congress. To meet America's energy needs in the 21st century, we need
a comprehensive national energy policy. It's time for Congress to act,
as I said earlier.
A sound energy bill must meet four objectives: it must promote
conservation and efficiency, increase domestic production, diversify
our energy supply, and modernize our energy infrastructure. And as we
pursue all these goals, we will also uphold our responsibility to be
good stewards of the environment.
The first objective of a sound energy bill is to encourage the use
of technology to improve energy conservation. We're constantly
searching for smarter ways to meet our energy needs. We're constantly
looking for new technologies to help Americans conserve. I mean, it
makes sense, doesn't it? If you want to become less dependent on
foreign sources of energy, we've got to be better conservers of
energy. The more we conserve, the less we use; and the less we use,
the less dependent we are on foreign sources of energy.
One of the reasons I went to Battelle was I wanted to see what
innovative ideas they had about energy conservation. What were some of
the true brains of America thinking about when it comes to encourage
energy conservation? I saw an efficient, affordable water heater than
extracts heat from the air and converts it into energy that can warm
your water in the shower. See, that's energy conservation. The
Department of Energy is supporting dozens of other creative
technologies just like that one that will increase conservation.
We're helping to develop lighter automobile parts that will save
weight without sacrificing safety. That is a good way to conserve
energy. We got flat panel computer screens that can operate around the
clock and consume very little power. That makes sense. There's
traffic signals that give off more light while taking in less
electricity. Today, you can store your food in super efficient
refrigerators that use less energy than a 75-watt light bulb. I mean,
we're making progress about using technologies that will enable us to
We're also applying practical technology to help Americans make
better choices about energy consumption. We want to help you make good
choices so you become better conservers of energy. Devices called smart
meters show how much energy you're using and then calculate exactly
what that energy is going to cost you. Seems like a practical idea,
doesn't it? Here's what you're using, if you use it at this hour, this
is what it costs. It'll help you plan. It'll help you better
conserve. It'll give you incentives to turn off the lights the next
time you leave the room. The federal government is helping consumers
make wise decisions at the store by placing Energy Star labels on the
most efficient products. If you're interested in joining in this
important cause of conserving energy, look for the Energy Star label.
I've proposed tax credits for drivers who choose fuel-efficient
hybrid vehicles. We want to encourage you to make good choices.
Innovators are advancing technology every day, and America needs to be
the world leader when it comes to energy conservation.
Secondly, we need to encourage more energy production at home. If
you want to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, you
need to find more energy here. The need is clear. Over the past three
years, America's energy consumption has increased by more than 3
percent, yet our domestic energy production has decreased by 2
percent. That means relying more on energy from foreign countries.
That's what that means.
We now import more than half our oil from abroad. Think about
that: more than half of the oil that we consume in order to maintain
our lifestyles comes from overseas, or abroad. And our dependence is
growing. We're becoming more reliant upon natural gas, and a lot of it
is coming from outside our borders. I believe that creates a national
security issue and an economic security issue for the United States.
And that's why it's important for us to utilize the resources we have
here at home in environmentally friendly ways.
Increasing our energy security begins with a firm commitment to
America's most abundant energy sources -- source, and that is coal.
Our nation is blessed with enough coal to last another 250 years.
We've got a lot of it. In Ohio, you know the importance of coal
firsthand. If you don't, listen to this: when you plug in a
television, or charge a cell phone, or use electricity there's a 90
percent chance that that electricity is coming from coal. Coal is at
the heart of Ohio's energy strategy, and it should be at the heart of
America's energy strategy.
Coal presents an environmental challenge. And I know that. Most
of Ohio's coal is high in sulfur. And that makes it harder for your
good state to meet strict air quality standards. That's why clean coal
technology is critical to the future of this country. It's critical to
the future of the state. It's critical for the job creators of your
state. It's critical for the working people of your state. It's
critical for this country.
When I ran for President in 2000, I pledged to invest $2 billion
over 10 years to promote research into clean coal technologies. I kept
my promise. My budget for 2006 brings clean coal funding to $1.6
billion over five years, and that puts us on pace to exceed my pledge
by more than 50 percent. It's an important pledge, because I believe
by utilizing the brains of America, like those I met at Battelle, we
can come up with ways to burn coal cleanly.
And we're doing some interesting things. We're funding research
into innovative projects, such as the process for converting coal into
clean-burning gas. Think about it. We're taking coal, there's a
process that converts it into gas that burns cleanly. A company in
Cincinnati is cooperating with a coal plant in New Mexico to eliminate
almost all sulfur emissions and turn the byproduct into a usable
Let me tell you something about something I just saw at Battelle
that I think you'll find interesting. We got what's called a FutureGen
Project. This is a groundbreaking development. We're developing
technology so that we can build the world's first coal-fueled zero
emission power plant. I believe it's possible. I believed it was
possible before I went to Battelle, then I talked to the people who
know what they're talking about -- (laughter) -- people on the front
edge of research and development, and now I really believe it's
possible. Someday -- someday, we'll be able to energize this country.
I know it's hard. Most people have said burning coal without
creating pollution was as likely as the Red Sox winning the World
Series. (Laughter.) Anything is possible. Clean coal technology
advances -- will advance, and when it does, our society will be better
off. We'll become less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
To produce more energy at home, we need to open up new areas to
environmentally responsible exploration for oil and natural gas,
including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- that's called ANWR.
(Applause.) The Department of Interior estimates that we could recover
more than 10 billion barrels of oil from a small corner of ANWR that
was reserved specifically for energy development. That's the same
amount of new oil we could get from 41 states combined. Thanks to
advances in technology -- and Sam was briefing me on what he saw, he
just went up there to look at the technology that would be used -- we
can now reach all of ANWR's oil by drilling on just 2,000 acres. Two
thousand acres is the size of the Columbus airport. By applying the
most innovative environmental practices, we can carry out the project
with almost no impact on land or local wildlife. And that's important
for you all to know.
You see, developing a small section of ANWR would not only create
thousands of new jobs, but it would eventually reduce our dependence on
foreign oil by up to a million barrels of oil a day. And that's
important. (Applause.) Congress needs to look at the science and look
at the facts and send me a bill that includes exploration in ANWR for
the sake of our country.
The third objective of a sound energy bill is to diversify our
energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy. If future
generations can count on energy in many different forms, we'll be less
vulnerable to price spikes and shifts in supply. To create more energy
choices, Congress should provide tax credits for renewable power
sources such as wind and solar and landfill gas. Congress needs to
continue strong support for ethanol and biodiesel. (Applause.) We're
going to continue to figure out ways to grow our way out of dependence
on foreign oil. Someday somebody is going to walk in and say, well, we
got a lot of soy beans, Mr. President. And we're less dependent on
foreign sources of oil because of biodiesel. (Applause.)
To ensure a diverse energy supply, we need to promote safe, clean
nuclear power. Nuclear power can generate huge amounts of electricity
without ever emitting air pollution or greenhouse gases. America
hasn't ordered a nuclear power plant since the 1970s, and it's time to
start building again. (Applause.) Many people have concerns about the
safety of nuclear power. I know that, and so do you. Yet, decades of
experience and advances in technology have proven that nuclear power is
reliable and secure. We're taking early steps toward licensing the
construction of nuclear power plants, because a secure energy future
must include nuclear power.
Another vital energy project is the hydrogen fuel initiative. When
hydrogen is used in a fuel cell, it has the potential to power anything
from a computer, to a cell phone, to an automobile that emits pure
water instead of exhaust fumes. At Battelle, engineers have found a
way to use hydrogen fuel cells to power the electronics on a Bradley
Fighting Vehicle. The world is changing because we're thinking
differently. Technology will help us leap the old, stale debate of
energy and environmental policy. We're providing $1.2 billion over
five years to help move hydrogen-powered cars from the research lab to
the dealership lot. (Applause.) With a bold investment now, we can
make it possible for today's children to take their driver's test in a
pollution-free automobile. It won't help them with parallel parking --
(laughter) -- it's sure going to help us all be better stewards of our
The final objective of a sound energy bill is to find better, more
reliable ways to deliver energy to consumers. Some parts of the
country, homes and businesses are receiving 21st century power through
infrastructure that was made decades ago. Transmission lines and pipe
lines and generating facilities are deteriorating. Different regions
share electricity over unreliable transmission lines. These strains on
the system lead to higher prices and they lead to bottlenecks in
delivery. And just one piece of the power grid -- if one piece fails,
you in Ohio know the results: darkness across the map.
Congress can solve these problems in a few simple ways. Current
law makes it optional, rather than mandatory, for power companies to
ensure reliability across the electricity grid. Most of you consider
it mandatory for the light to come on when you flip the switch.
(Laughter.) Congress too needs to make sure that reliability on the
electricity grid is mandatory, not voluntary, when it comes to our
power companies. (Applause.)
We need to repeal the outdated rules that discourage investment in
new power infrastructure. Incredibly enough, there's a law on the
books from the Depression that prohibits new investment when it comes
to expanding the transmission of electricity. That needs to be
repealed. I mean, we're living in the 21st century. We've got a lot
of work to do to make sure that we have reliable sources of electricity
coming into our homes and to our businesses.
We need to make sure local disputes don't cause national problems
when it comes to developing an infrastructure. Federal officials
should have the authority to site new power lines. Listen, we've got
modern interstate grids for phone; we've got a modern connection with
our highways; America needs a modern electricity grid, too, in order to
make sure that we can compete in a global economy, in order to make
sure people can find work.
And as we grow our economy -- and it's growing -- and as we improve
our energy supply, and you just heard a comprehensive strategy to do
so, we'll also improve the environment. Too many people in Washington
and around our country seem to think we have to pick between energy
production and environmental protection, between environmental
protection and growing our economy. I think that's a false choice.
Our economy is growing, and over the past four years, our air and
water are cleaner. Over 30 years, our economy has more than doubled,
air pollution has been cut in half. (Applause.) What I'm telling you
is there are practical ways to work together to use technology to make
sure we can maintain our lifestyles, improve our lifestyles for future
generations and be good stewards of the environment. And I've got some
interesting ideas on that. As a matter of fact, I've sent a good,
innovative plan to Congress called the Clear Skies Initiative.
Clear Skies uses the power of free markets to reduce power plant
pollution by 70 percent without disrupting the energy supply or raising
electricity prices. Let me tell you something, you need this bill for
you in Ohio. That's why George Voinovich, a fine United States
Senator, has been working so hard to get this bill out of the United
States Senate. Clear Skies would allow almost every county in this
state to meet strict new air quality standards, while being able to
keep your commitment to coal, and therefore to reliable energy
supplies, and therefore to jobs. Congress is debating the Clear Skies
Initiative, but I'm going to act to get results.
Soon the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize two rules
similar to the Clear Skies Initiative. The Clean Air Interstate Rule
will provide Ohio and eastern states with a practical, market-based
solution to the problem of power plant pollution that drifts from one
state to another. This will help you. The Clean Air Mercury Rule will
provide the first ever national cap on mercury emissions from power
plants and result in a 70 percent decrease in mercury levels. These
rules provide some of the same benefits as Clear Skies, but they are
not a substitute for effective legislation. To protect the
environment, to protect jobs here in Ohio and around our country,
Congress needs to get a good Clear Skies bill to my desk now.
Thank you for letting come and talk about some of the big goals
that I've set for our nation's energy policy. I'm counting on the
boldness and vision of the American people to meet them. I'm counting
on the letters and phone calls from the American people to let Congress
know now is the time to act. History has shown us that American
innovation has never been short of supply. I mean, we're an innovative
society. Think about how much life has changed for the better. I
think about how much life will change for the better because of
And there's no doubt in my mind, we can leave behind a better
America. No doubt in my mind, we can become less dependent on foreign
sources of energy. There's no doubt in my mind, we can lead better
lives through the use of new innovative technology.
Again, I want to thank the entrepreneurs at Battelle, the
scientists and thinkers at that important organization for showing me
firsthand what's possible. I want to thank you all for giving me a
chance to share my vision for sound energy policy, but, hopefully, you
can get my sense of optimism about the future for our great country.
There's nothing America can't achieve when we put our mind to it. It's
an honor to be here. It's an honor to be the President of such a
May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 2:43 P.M. EST