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Bush Says US Must 'Get Off Oil,' Calls for More Nuclear Power

President Bush says America's search for alternative sources of fuel is a national security priority as well as an economic necessity. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush wants to expand the use of nuclear power in developing nations.

President Bush told a renewable energy conference in Washington that America's dependence on foreign oil is a challenge to U.S. national security.

"Some countries we get oil from don't particularly like us," Mr. Bush said. "They don't like the form of government that we embrace. They don't believe in the same freedoms we believe in. And that is a problem from a national security perspective for the United States and any other nation that values its economic sovereignty and national sovereignty."

The Washington International Renewable Energy Conference brings together some three thousand delegates from more than a hundred countries to assess the costs and benefits of deploying renewable energy technology throughout the world.

President Bush and U.S. lawmakers have agreed on a series of steps to reduce domestic consumption by improving fuel efficiency standards in vehicles. They have also approved more funding for research into biofuels, hydrogen, wind and solar power.

With much of the higher prices of fossil fuels attributed to growing demand from China and India, President Bush says the world's largest economies must help developing countries plan for future growth with cleaner, less expensive technologies, including nuclear.

"I believe developing nations ought to be encouraged to use nuclear power. I believe it is in our interests," Mr. Bush said. "I believe it will help take pressure off the price of oil, and I know it is going to help protect the environment."

Mr. Bush says the United States is working with Japan, France, Great Britain, Russia and China to establish the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

"The purpose of which is to help developing nations secure cost-effective and proliferation-resistant nuclear power, and at the same time to conduct joint research on how to deal with the nuclear waste issue through positive, productive reprocessing," Mr. Bush said.

Meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah Tuesday, President Bush criticized OPEC for keeping energy prices high by limiting production. He said it was a mistake for the oil cartel to have its biggest customers' economies slowing down as a result of higher prices.

OPEC Wednesday decided not to increase production, saying crude supplies are plentiful and demand is expected to weaken in the second financial quarter.