Bush pushes foundering energy plan


WASHINGTON, AFP

President George W. Bush on Thursday relaunched his foundering energy plan, which has come under withering Democratic attacks, in an attempt to revive the program Republicans say is key to U.S. national security.

“Our nation must have a strategy, a broad, comprehensive energy strategy that calls upon the best of the nation’s entrepreneurs to help us develop the technologies necessary to make wise choices in the marketplace, as well as calls upon our nation’s innovative technologies to help us find new sources of energy. “And the plan I submitted to Congress today does just that,” he said.

In the Senate, Republicans, holding a copy of Bush’s new, boiled-down version of his energy plan, touted it as the answer to the United States’ wavering economy and accused opposition Democrats of delaying the plan for political gain.

“The security interests of this nation is at stake,” warned Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska.

Democrats, however, who have taken control of the powerful U.S. Senate, have blasted Bush’s energy policy, first announced in early May, saying it was long on increasing supply and delivery, but short on reducing demand and tepid on renewables.

They have also opened hearings into allegations of price-gouging in California’s electricity crisis, which some Republicans have spotlighted as an example of the energy crunch the nation faces if it does not up domestic supply.

And in a pointed objection to the emphasis that Bush, a former oilman, has placed on increased oil and gas drilling in protected areas, the House on Thursday voted 265-157 approving an amendment banning drilling for oil and gas under the U.S. Great Lakes.

Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics.

“It’s time Democrats stop playing politics with this issue,” said Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee who, together with other Republicans, was to meet with Bush Thursday to discuss energy strategy.

Republicans supporting the Bush plan are expected to take their message to their constituents over the July 4 holiday recess in an effort to turn up the heat on those opposing aspects of the initiative.