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Bush Champions Ethanol to Cut Foreign Oil Dependence

U.S. President George Bush wants to cut America's dependence on foreign oil by increasing the domestic production of alternative fuels. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush wants Americans to cut their use of gasoline by 20 percent over the next 10 years. On Thursday, Mr. Bush met with scientists working on enzymes to produce ethanol from wood chips and agricultural waste.

"It's an interesting time, isn't it, when you are able to say, we are on the verge of some breakthroughs that will enable a pile of wood chips to become the raw materials for fuels that will run your car," he said.

The president spoke during a meeting with officials from the Novozymes Corporation in the state of North Carolina. Novozymes scientists used a federal grant to cut the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol.

Mr. Bush says that is just the sort of federal assistance needed to break America's dependence on foreign oil.

"We're all connected, and so when a Chinese economy grows, and their demand for oil goes up, it affects the price that you pay for gasoline," he added. "People got to know that. And, therefore, it is important for us to continue to advance these kinds of research projects."

The president's energy plan also includes improving fuel economy standards for automobiles and boosting investments in clean-coal technology, hybrid vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells.

The United States currently imports about 60 percent of its oil. President Bush wants to step up domestic production in what he calls environmentally sensitive ways in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico.