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Bush Tries to Win Support for Energy Policies - 2002-02-25

U.S. President George W. Bush is making an all-out effort to win congressional approval of his energy policies. But his proposals face strong opposition among Senate Democrats.

The most controversial aspects of the President's energy plan involve oil production. Mr. Bush wants to open up Alaska's protected wilderness areas to oil drilling. Democrats charge the president who spent years working in the Texas oil industry is more interested in production than conservation. President Bush has said both are needed.

"Any sound, comprehensive energy policy must both increase production and reduce consumption," Mr. Bush said.

To underscore the conservation elements of his plan, the president invited American auto manufacturers to show off their latest fuel-efficient cars. They turned a portion of the White House main driveway into a parking lot for a variety of vehicles that run on both gas and electricity. President Bush said this kind of technology, which his administration strongly supports, is key to America's energy future.

"It is important for Americans to remember that as we debate an energy bill, as we have a discussion about an energy plan, that America imports more than 50 percent of its oil, more than ten million barrels a day. And the figure is rising," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush stressed once again that this dependence on foreign oil has become a matter of national security, because some of the countries that supply oil are not friends of the United States. He said government support for research and development of fuel alternatives is vital.

"The transportation sector consumes more than two-thirds of all the petroleum used in the United States, so that any effort to reduce consumption must include ways to safely make cars and trucks more fuel efficient," he said.

The president is also proposing over $3 billion in tax credits available for those who buy these new high-tech "hybrid" cars. The Senate returns from a holiday recess Tuesday and is expected to start debate on this and other aspects of the energy bill.