Seemingly unphased from his morning in a bunker, President George W. Bush strode onstage at the SBA Expo on Wednesday to promote his energy policy and praise small businesses. "I appreciate that our small businesses take risks and pursue dreams, as a result, creating jobs," Bush said. He was a hit among the small-business-owner audience, who greeted him with a standing ovation, whoops, cheers, and the flashing of camera phones all over the ballroom here at the DC Hilton.
Bush has just wrapped up his social security tour, and left that issue untouched today: his focus this afternoon was on energy. "A major problem facing the country...is our nation's growing dependence on foreign sources of energy," he told the crowd. "Technology is this nation's ticket to greater independence."
To back up that argument, Bush offered a number of ways he wants to fix the nation's energy policy. Those include applying technology to glean more production from existing resources, specifically, nuclear plants. The President also noted that America hasn't ordered a new nuclear plant since the 1970s, and "a secure energy future for America must include more nuclear power." Second on his list was beefing up U.S. oil refineries; new oil refineries, he mused, coud be built on closed military facilities, for example.
He then pushed opening the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to what he called "environmentally responsible exploration"; creating a pipeline to funnel Alaskan natural gas to the U.S.; looking into alternate sources of energy, including hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel, and 'clean' sources of power like wind (he noted he'd asked Congress for $1.9 billion over 10 years to research renewable energy sources such as wind); and creating a modern electricity grid.
International cooperation, Bush said, will be key. He touched on how China and India need to work on clean sources of energy to sustain their booming economies, which is something he said he'll discuss at July's G8 summit. He also discussed "working with likeminded countries to develop nuclear technologies that are safe, clean, and avoid proliferation."
Bush closed with a strong endorsement of his energy bill, and that--along with the rest of his speech--drew claps from all over the room. "We should have put this in place several decades ago. We haven't had a national energy policy in place for some time," the President said. "Now's the time to put that strategy in place."