Tags: Bush: | Fight | Energy | Costs | With | Tax | Cut

Bush: Fight Energy Costs With Tax Cut

Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM

"It is time for the Congress to pass meaningful, real tax reform, and I urge them to do so before Memorial Day," Bush said.

Addressing reporters in a 35-minute news conference, Bush said he was pleased that congressional lawmakers had agreed on the terms of the budget resolution, but said it was time to move the measure to final passage.

The Senate on Thursday voted 53-47 to approve the compromise budget resolution that would provide $1.35 trillion in tax cuts over 11 years. The House version, which set up the appropriations process for the 2002 federal budget, passed 221-207 on Wednesday.

"The best way to make sure that people are able to deal with high energy prices is to cut taxes, is to give people more of their own money so they can meet the bills, so they can meet the high energy prices," said Bush.

Bush said the United States needed to boost its refining abilities and supplies of coal, natural gas and electrical power. While he said he was worried about hard-working people paying high prices at the gasoline pumps, he would not support cutting the federal gasoline tax.

"The reason why we have a problem at the gas pump at this particular moment in history is because we haven't built any refining capacity," Bush said. "When you don't increase supplies of a commodity, and demand continues to increase, the price is going to go up. And so our nation must expand refining capacity. And we've got to do that within our hemisphere. Otherwise, when you transport refined products from far distances, it doesn't meet market tests. So we need more refining capacity."

A task force led by Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled on May 18 to announce the administration's energy policy. Bush will promote it during travel stops in Minnesota, Nevada, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

The White House has been tight-lipped about the policy report, but sources on Capitol Hill say that while the report was not yet in its final form, the draft contained eight chapters with the first section outlining the nation's current energy status.

Capitol Hill sources said that in a briefing Friday with Senate staff, Andrew Lundquist, national director of the Energy Development Policy Group, said the panel attempted to integrate environmental and energy policy in the report, and that they met once with environmental groups and governors while developing the report. He also reportedly told Senate staff that energy price gouging had taken place in California, but that the practice was not illegal.

Calls to the White House for comment on the briefing were not immediately returned.

The report addresses pollutants with the exception of carbon dioxide. It focuses on oil, gas, coal and nuclear power, with recommendations for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. The policy will likely include recommendations on tax credits and regulatory actions for renewable technologies, but makes no budget recommendations on restoring funding levels. Climate change is apparently not dealt with at all in the report, and no recommendations are made for carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Bush said the United States could not "conserve our way" to energy independence, and that he believed oil exploration and sound environmental policy went "hand in hand."

On the international front, Bush said he was working with Canada and Mexico to increase the supply of natural gas. Since assuming office Bush has met with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Mexican President Vicente Fox and discussed the import of natural gas from their regions as part of Bush's hemispheric trade initiatives. The United States may reach into other continents to increase its gas supply, Bush said.

"I had a good discussion today with the president of Nigeria, who is talking about increasing their amount of production coming from Nigeria. That is positive news for U.S. consumers. The more supply on the market, the lower, the less pressure there will be on price," Bush said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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It is time for the Congress to pass meaningful, real tax reform, and I urge them to do so before Memorial Day, Bush said. Addressing reporters in a 35-minute news conference, Bush said he was pleased that congressional lawmakers had agreed on the terms of the budget...
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Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM
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