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Bush Unveils Energy Proposals

President Bush has a new series of proposals he says will cut America's dependence on foreign sources of energy. The announcement comes at a time of rising public concern in the United States over the skyrocketing price of oil.

The president says he understands the impact rising energy prices are having on American consumers and the U.S. economy.

"This problem did not develop overnight and it is not going to be fixed overnight,” said Mr. Bush. “But it is now time to fix it."

He says a comprehensive solution is necessary, one that focuses on stimulating domestic energy production.

"See, we have a fundamental question we have to face here in America,” said Mr. Bush. “Do we want to continue to grow more dependent on other nations to meet our energy needs? Or do we want to do what is necessary to achieve greater control of our economic destiny?"

In an address to a group of small business executives, the president listed a new series of measures that would supplement the energy plan he first sent to Congress several years ago.

He noted that the United States has not built any new oil refineries or nuclear power plants since the 1970s. Mr. Bush said it is time for America to start building again.

"America has not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970's. France, by contrast, has built 58 plants in the same period and today France gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from safe, clean nuclear power," added Mr. Bush.

The president proposed federal insurance for companies reluctant to build nuclear plants because they fear regulations might cause unexpected construction delays. And he addressed concerns about the high cost of building refineries by offering up land on closed military bases that could be leased or transferred from the government.

Mr. Bush said improvements in technology have already changed the face of the nuclear power industry, emphasizing this kind of innovation will be crucial to solving America's long term energy needs. He said the nation cannot rely forever on fossil fuels, adding technology is the nation's ticket to energy independence.

"Technology is allowing us to better use our existing energy resources and in the years ahead, technology will allow us to create entirely new sources of energy in ways earlier generations could never have dreamed," he noted.

This was the president's second energy policy speech in a week and followed a meeting at his Texas ranch Monday with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer. In all his remarks, Mr. Bush has sought to pressure Congress to complete work on pending energy legislation before lawmakers leave for their annual August recess. An energy package has already cleared the House, but is facing obstacles in the Senate.