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Bush Hopes to Lower Gas Prices

President Bush is temporarily suspending environmental rules on gasoline and deferring purchases for the nation's strategic reserves in hopes of driving down rising gasoline prices.

President Bush says the long-term solution to America's energy needs is running automobiles on something other than petroleum.

But that is little help for today's motorists with crude oil prices more than $75 a barrel and industry analysts expecting gasoline prices to continue rising through the peak summer driving months in the United States.

A Washington Post / ABC News poll says 70 percent of Americans say higher gas prices are causing them financial hardship. And most are blaming President Bush, with 74 percent disapproving of how he is handling the issue.

So the president is taking a series of measures that he hopes will help lower prices while reminding Americans that the broader market forces at play are beyond his control.

"What people are seeing at their gasoline pumps reflects the global economy in which we live," he said.  "See, when demand for oil goes up in China or India, two fast growing economies, it effects the price of oil worldwide."

Speaking to alternative energy officials in Washington, President Bush said he will make sure consumers are treated fairly.

"Americans understand, by and large, that the price of crude oil is going up and that the prices are going up, but what they do not want and will not accept is manipulation of the market, and neither will I," he added.

President Bush says the Justice Department is working with states' Attorneys General to investigate allegations of price gouging at the pump.

To increase the supply of gasoline on the market, the president is deferring the federal government's purchase of petroleum for the nation's strategic reserves.  He is also temporarily suspending environmental rules governing gas blends and the pollutants their burning creates.

Opposition Democrats are hoping to capitalize on voter anxiety over high gas prices and feel the president is particularly vulnerable on this issue as both he and Vice President Dick Cheney worked in the oil sector.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer says the president is not doing enough.

"It is nice that the president is finally talking about gas prices, but talk is cheap," he said.  "Gas is not."

President Bush says Americans expect oil companies to reinvest record profits in expanding refining capacity or developing new technologies.

He wants Congress to repeal $2 billion worth of tax breaks for oil companies during the next 10 years and expand consumer tax credits for the purchase of hybrid and clean-diesel vehicles.

President Bush also wants to expand domestic production, including what he calls environmentally friendly development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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