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President uses radio address to push energy agenda


WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush urged the Senate on Saturday to approve his proposal for curbing pollution and promoting energy efficiency, arguing it is the best way to shield American consumers from ``wild swings in energy prices for the future.''

Bush, just returned from a six-day foreign tour, used his weekly radio address to promote the energy plan he unveiled last week before taking off for Japan, South Korea and China.

He said his proposal would upgrade electric power lines, modernize other energy delivery systems and develop new technologies, such as cars that are powered with hydrogen and emit water. He said tax credits and other incentives will encourage development of ``renewable energy,'' such as wind and solar power and crop fuels.

``Conservation technology and renewables are important. Yet they alone cannot solve our energy problems,'' Bush said. ``We must also reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of oil by encouraging safe and clean exploration at home.''

As part of its energy policy, the administration is particularly interested in opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil and gas drilling. That plan has hung up the president's energy package in the Senate, where lawmakers worry that drilling would spoil ANWR's environmental beauty.

Bush argued for ANWR drilling during a stop in Alaska last week en route to Asia. ``There's no doubt in my mind ... that we can find energy for America's people and at the same time preserve the beauty of Alaska,'' he said then.

The president defended that stance Saturday, saying he met with native leaders in Alaska ``who want to preserve the grandeur of their state while carefully developing the energy beneath a small fraction of it.'' And, he said, labor groups embrace his energy policies generally because it will create new jobs.

Now, he said, it is up to the Senate to act.

``We all remember the blackouts and the sky-high energy bills of recent summers,'' Bush said. ``I urge Congress to protect consumers from these wild swings in energy prices for the future. ... Unless we act to increase our energy independence, our reliance on foreign sources of energy will only increase.''

Bush offered his proposal to reduce greenhouse gases as an alternative to the 1997 international agreement negotiated in Kyoto, Japan. That pact commits industrial nations to rolling back greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.

The Kyoto protocol was signed by the Clinton administration, but never ratified by the Senate. Bush backed out of it last year, saying it would have cost the U.S. economy $400 billion and 4.9 million jobs.
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