Democratic Leadership Pushes White House On Energy Policy

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill pushed a new energy package Wednesday, calling for action in alleviating gas prices by suspending new purchases for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, promoting research into alternative fuels and placing incentives on energy saving models for cars, buildings and appliances.

The Bush Administration has so far come out against calls to suspend oil purchases for the SPR, and has made increasing domestic petroleum exploration and production, including drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the cornerstone for a new energy policy.

Bush has agreed with the need to develop alternative fuels, but has also come out strongly in favor of new nuclear power plants and against mandates like fuel economy for the auto industry.

“Drill, veto, drill, veto, drill veto,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of the Bush Administration’s response to Democratic overtures.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Administration was “strangling” any attempts to make serious investments at alternative energy over the last seven years and that drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge would “take ten years and reduce the price of oil by a penny.”

Schumer also called for an end to the speculation in energy markets that drives up prices.

Speaking at a press conference last week, Bush chastised Democrats for blocking the necessary legislation to explore the energy potential in ANWR, a proposal he insisted that due to new technology, was “environmentally safe exploration,” and called alternative fuels a necessary step, but one that would not prove capable of handling the country’s energy needs in the short term.

Democrats have stated they will bring their new proposals to the floor before Memorial Day.

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