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Bush Proposes Measures to Reduce Energy Costs

I’m Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

PRESIDENT BUSH: "Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of higher gasoline prices. My administration is doing everything we can to make gasoline more affordable."

President Bush, at his news conference at the White House Thursday night, reacting to concerns about energy prices. For now the United States will continue to ask oil-producing countries to produce more. But Mister Bush says Americans must also make better use of existing energy resources and develop new ones.

The president urged help for other nations to improve technology that could reduce worldwide demand for fossil fuels. And he urged Congress to pass his energy plan so he could sign it by summer.

Earlier in the week, Mister Bush proposed ways to reduce the long-term need for imported oil. In his words: "Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American people." Gasoline currently averages more than two dollars and twenty cents per gallon, or fifty-eight cents a liter.

Mister Bush proposes more refineries to process oil into fuel, and more nuclear power stations. He noted that no new refineries have been built in the United States since the nineteen seventies. There have been no new orders for nuclear power stations either since then.

Mister Bush says former military bases could be used to build oil refineries. He also proposed that the government provide risk insurance for nuclear power operators in case of trouble. Another proposal would increase federal power to approve new centers for liquefied natural gas.

The president also supports a tax credit for buyers of vehicles that use diesel fuel. And he supports oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Opponents worry about harm to the environment.

The Bush administration proposed an energy plan to Congress almost four years ago. The House of Representatives approved legislation on April twenty-first. This week the president called for the Senate to begin work soon on its version of the bill.

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited President Bush this week at his home in Crawford, Texas. The crown prince discussed a Saudi plan to increase oil production. But Saudi foreign affairs adviser Adel al-Jubeir noted that American refineries cannot process much more oil.

On Friday oil prices closed below fifty dollars a barrel for the first time in more than two months. Increased supplies have helped bring down prices from a high of more than fifty-eight dollars a barrel.

A report this week added to concerns about the effects of high energy prices on economic growth. The government says the United States economy expanded at a yearly rate of just over three percent from January through March. The increase was the smallest in two years.

IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Jerilyn Watson. I’m Steve Ember.