Prices may be easing off at the gasoline pump, but President George W. Bush said his commitment to wean the nation off foreign oil is as strong as ever.
"I welcome low gasoline prices, however it's not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil. We need to do so for economic reasons and for national security concerns," he said. "We cannot be complacent about our future when it comes to energy."
Bush addressed an estimated crowd of 1,500 people, including many representing the agriculture industry, at the Advancing Renewable Energy Conference Oct. 12 in St. Louis.
The President stressed a comprehensive approach to energy solutions -- Biofuels, solar and wind power, and hydrogen are important parts of the strategy. Other key components are oil and natural gas exploration, as well as new and improved coal and nuclear plants.
He focused his 25-minute speech on key points of his Advanced Energy Initiative made during his State of the Union address last January. AIE seeks to change the way Americans power their cars, homes and businesses through the use of alternative energy sources, instead of depending on foreign oil. The President wants to replace 75% of the nation's oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.
Bush commended farmers, agribusinesses and other energy entrepreneurs for their success in ethanol and biodiesel development. "A good farm economy is important to a good national economy," he said. "It make sense to have our farmers growing the feedstock for new energy."
"The government also has an important role to play," Bush said. "We can reward people and businesses for investing in future energy research and development. Grants and tax credits for renewable fuel can stimulate new research, new ways to conserve energy, and better ways to protect our environment."
One example of the new government initiative is the Department of Energy's plan to create new bioenergy research centers. DOE made the announcement at the Renewable Energy Conference that $250 million will be devoted over the next five years to set up two bioenergy centers. The centers will focus on developing new bioenergy crops and processes for the next generation of ethanol plants fueled by biomass. Another $17.5 million will be directed to 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects to help break our nation's addiction to oil.