President Bush says emerging technologies will help the United States reduce its dependence on foreign oil and protect the environment from climate change. To drive home his point, the president toured an alternative fuel research facility in Delaware - the day after delivering his State of the Union address.
"Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal,” he said during his speech to Congress. “Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years."
President Bush followed up on his ambitious plan to wean the United States from its dependence on foreign oil by visiting DuPont's experimental energy facility in Delaware. Research at the facility, which is developing new ways to convert crop waste into alternative fuels, is key to the president's efforts to sharply reduce American imports of Middle East oil.
To do that, the president is mandating a five-fold increase in the production of bio-fuels. "This is a government mandate that says we'll be using 35 billion gallons [132 billion liters] of alternate fuel by 2017. This is a firm statement," he said on the tour.
The president is also moving to reform fuel economy standards for cars, which could save an additional 30 billion liters of gasoline.
At a meeting of business leaders in Switzerland, the head of an investment firm that specializes in clean energy projects says it's an important first step. But James Cameron of Climate Change Capital says the president must ensure the plan moves forward. "It's clearly a good thing to set aggressive targets for reduction and to make those reductions early. It will reduce costs ultimately, to do something today that makes a difference."
A Washington based biotechnology trade group agrees the president is on the right track. Brent Erickson is the Chief executive of Biotechnology Industry Organization. "This is the one issue where there is strong bipartisan support. And it's the one issue that Congress may actually rally behind and get over the finish line this year."
Some see the administration's shift toward renewable resources as a realignment with the rest of the world. Former Senator Timothy Wirth was one of the chief U.S. negotiators on the Kyoto agreement. The Bush administration did not sign the 1997 accord, which asked major industrial nations to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"The president is understanding, finally, I think, that this is a serious issue that the U.S. has to address, the U.S. has to lead in real ways not rhetorical ways, but real ways," said Mr. Wirth.
Dozens of lawmakers from around the world will meet in Washington next month to look at ways to reduce global warming.