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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Bush unveils energy plan
Exxon oil refinery, Torrance, California
No quick solution to California's energy problems
US President George W Bush has unveiled controversial plans for meeting the future energy needs of the country.

Mr Bush said his national energy plan would "light the way to a brighter future" for the US, and tackle a decade of neglect in the energy sector.

If we fail to act, Americans will face more, and more widespread blackouts

George Bush
The US president emphasised the importance of conservation and energy production "at home".

He said the plan would "expand and diversify our nation's energy supplies", by encouraging more oil exploration and greater use of coal and nuclear energy, while offering incentives for conservation and renewable energy sources.

With American households facing high petrol prices and California braced for rolling blackouts this summer, Mr Bush has made overhauling the nation's energy policies a priority.

"If we fail to act, Americans will face more and more widespread blackouts," Mr Bush said.

Click here for a graph comparing international energy consumption.

He also warned that America could become more and more reliant on foreign crude oil, "putting our national energy security in the hand of foreign nations, some of whom do not share our interests".

Specific measure

The White House has earlier warned that the US faced the most serious energy shortage since the oil embargoes of the 1970s, with a fundamental imbalance between supply and demand.

The administration's biggest failure is that it has simply not recognised how we have eventually to move from oil to hydrogen to fuel our transportation

James MacKenzie of the World Resources Institute
The plans include increased oil exploration in an Arctic wildlife reserve, and an easing of regulations on oil refining, coal extraction and the building of new nuclear power plants.

The new energy policy includes plans to license 1,300 new power stations over the next 20 years, and to streamline the licensing of new nuclear plants to speed their development.

Tax breaks for fuel-efficient cars and energy efficient homes are also planned, in what is being seen as a change in attitude towards conservation measures.

Bush discusses plan with cabinet
Mr Bush will announce the proposals later on Thursday
Mr Bush had entrusted Vice President Dick Cheney to review policy in an area that is now the most contentious matter on the new administration's agenda.

The president said the plan had come up with "more than 100 recommendations that light the way to a brighter future through energy that is abundant and reliable, clean and affordable".


Correspondents say that initially the administration was scornful of conservation, but the tone has now changed, with tax breaks for those who use energy-efficient cars and buildings totalling $10bn over 10 years.

Critics say the administration is full of former oil executives, from the president down, and its election campaign was heavily funded by the industry.

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
Democrats criticised the plan
The Democrats have already criticised the failure of the plan to provide a short-term solution.

And environmentalists have attacked the plan for its reliance on inefficient and polluting energy sources.

James MacKenzie, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute in Washington DC, told BBC News Online: "The administration's biggest failure is that it has simply not recognised how we have eventually to move from oil to hydrogen to fuel our transportation.

"The writing is on the wall in the US. We're importing about 55% of our oil now, and in 20 years it'll be 70%. Yet we're out there now, driving these gas-hungry sports utility vehicles. We never learn in this country, except in a crisis."

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See also:

17 May 01 | Americas
Energy tops Bush agenda
22 Apr 01 | Americas
EU presses on with Kyoto
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
29 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Anger at US climate retreat
26 Apr 01 | Americas
US debates nuclear expansion
15 May 01 | Americas
US attraction to nuclear power
09 May 01 | Americas
Clash over Arctic reserves
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