Promotes Energy Efficiency Through Technology
The White House
February 25, 2002
11:05 A.M. EST
Thank you all for coming today. I'm honored to be joined by Secretary of Energy
Spence Abraham and Administrator Chrsite Todd Whitman of the Environmental Protection
We're here to discuss an energy plan, a comprehensive energy plan that recognizes
that through technology we can increase our national security and economic security
by reducing demand for petro chemicals and, at the same time, we can clean up
the air in our country.
I want to thank these two leades for having a practical vision as to how to
achieve common objectives. Any sound comprehensive energy policy must both increase
production and reduce consumption. It's 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 10 million
barrels a day. And the figure is rising.
This is dependence on foreign oil. And this dependence is a challenge to our
economic security, because dependence can lead to price shocks and fuel shortages.
And this dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. To put
it bluntly, sometimes we rely upon energy sources from countries that don't
particularly like us.
Now, it's also important to realize that 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. New technology is the best way to do so, and today we had
a chance to see some of the best new technologies being developed by American
Hybrid cars, the likes of which we just saw over there, are already in existence.
They run on a mixture of gas and electric power. They are several times more
fuel efficient than most cars on the road today.
I was told by the representatives of the manufacturing companies that more and
more hybrid cars will be available in the marketplace next year. And this is
good news. It's good news for our environment, and it's good news for American
consumers who are not only worried about the environment, but understand the
ramifications of dependency on foreign sources of crude oil.
And then the fuel cells are being developed. Fuel cells will power cars with
little or no waste at all. We happen to believe that fuel cells are the wave
of the future; that fuel cells offer incredible opportunity.
Now, there's a lot of obstacles that must be overcome in order to make fuel
cells economically viable. And, therefore, we're promoting more research and
development. In January, Secretary Abraham announced a $150 million FreedomCAR
plan, focused on development of fuel cell technologies that run on hydrogen,
whose only emission is water vapor.
Imagine when that technology comes into being. Imagine how less dependent America
will be on foreign sources of energy, and how more easy it'll be to clean up
our air. And we've got plenty of water, and if water vapor is the product, we'll
be in good shape. But we need to have a focused effort to bring fuel cells to
market, and that's exactly what my administration is dedicated to do.
There's been some breakthroughs already. After all, NASA developed fuel cells
to generate electricity, heat, and water in space vehicles. Businesses started
using them in 1995. And that's why we are optimistic that within a reasonable
period of time, that fuel-cell technology will become more widespread.
We've also, in the bill I submitted, made it clear that any good comprehensive
energy plan must encourage consumption by providing over $3 billion of consumer
tax credits, available for those who purchase hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles
over the next 11 years. In other words, there is a role for the federal government,
not only to encourage research and development, but a role to provide tax credits
to enhance the marketplace.
Technologies will also enable us to preserve our environment as we explore for
natural gas at home. And I urge the United States Senate to pass a comprehensive
energy plan quickly. The House has acted, and now the Senate must act. And the
Congress needs to get a bill to my desk.
The other feature about the energy bill that is important is that it's a jobs
bill. That's why the Teamsters strongly support the energy package we submitted
to the United States Congress. This is an important piece of legislation, and
I urge quick action.