WASHINGTON, DC, August 12, 2008 (ENS) - President George W. Bush met today with a newly formed group of businesses and national trade associations that is lobbying for increased domestic production of oil and gas from offshore and Alaskan drilling. "I agree with them," the president said.
The Coalition for Affordable American Energy was created in June by the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Office Products Wholesalers Association and 75 other national associations to fight high energy prices.
During their hour-long meeting with the president this afternoon, each organization outlined its policy position on energy and all positions had in common twin messages - not enough domestic oil production - fuel costs too high.
The coalition will support initiatives which encourage conservation and the development of renewable and alternative energy sources, but its focus is on increasing domestic oil and gas production since members believe alternative sources will not be able to meet U.S. energy demand for decades.
Bush said the coalition supports his policy of opening wider areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas drilling.
"We discussed a variety of strategies about how to affect the supply of oil, and one way that we can affect the supply of oil is to increase access to offshore exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf," he said of the meeting at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.
"One of the things that came out in this discussion was there's a lot of folks in our country who understand we could be doing something about the high price of gasoline and we're not," Bush said. "Obviously we need to be wise about conservation, but we've got to be wise about increasing the supply of oil here in America."
Bush used the meeting as a platform to press his familiar oil production agenda - drill offshore, drill in northern Alaska, develop oil shale and expand American refining capacity.
When Congress returns from its recess, the president said, it should bring up the offshore drilling moratorium for a definitive "up or down" vote. Bush lifted the executive moratorium on offshore drilling last month, and only the congressional moratorium remains.
Lawmakers should not insert any "legislative poison pills," said Bush, adding, "Those would be provisions that they know will never be enacted and are added only for the purpose of killing the effort to open up the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling."
"Our goal should be to enact a law that reflects the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to open up oil resources on the Outer Continental Shelf," said Bush.
That certainly is the opinion of Michael Uremovich. As an executive committee member of the Associated Builders and Contractors and chairman of the board of Starcon International, a privately held Illinois plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contracting company, Uremovich was at the table with the president today.
"The energy crisis has driven up costs in all aspects of our business," said Uremovich. "Not only have we made changes to company travel policies and felt the impact on our fleet of more than 100 vehicles, but for the first time since Starcon International was founded 25 years ago, we had to lay off workers. Additionally, our clients have cancelled or postponed nearly $2 billion of projects which translates to fewer jobs."
Also present at the meeting, Dyke Messinger delivered the same message to the president.
An executive committee member of the National Association of Manufacturers, Messinger heads a 55-year-old family-owned company in Salisbury, North Carolina that manufactures machinery for slip forming concrete curbing, sidewalks and highway safety barriers.
"We need to access our abundant land-based and offshore domestic resources," he said. "Our employees are asking us as employers to promote federal policies that tap America’s own energy supplies."
President Bush said domestic oil development would not necessarily destroy the environment.
"Obviously we need to expand conservation measures," he said. "We need to develop alternative energy technologies such as advanced batteries, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells. We need to expand clean, safe, nuclear power; clean coal technology; solar and wind power. There's not a single answer to our energy problems."
"But a part of solving the dilemma that our consumers are facing, that the hardworking Americans face, and that is high price of gasoline, we need to get after exploration here in America," Bush said. "And we can do it in a way that protects the environment."
But environmental and conservation groups do not agree.
At the end of July, the Sierra Club launched a radio ad campaign urging Congress to "keep standing strong against Big Oil," and blaming oil company "price gouging" for the pain at the pump.
Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said as he launched the ad campaign, "President Bush, Big Oil's backers in Congress, and shadowy outside groups are doing everything they can to push an agenda that will help pad Big Oil's bottom line while denying consumers any real relief from pain at the pump."
Pope said, "We are urging the public to tell Congress to stand strong and move the kind of legislation we need to end Big Oil's chokehold on America's economy, energy policy and politics once and for all."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.