Since most consumers of news are likely to get only a soundbite tailored to whatever issue the lamestream media thinks is important (investigate oil companies and TAX profits) I'm providing the following excerpt from what is the core of the short term problem: INCREASING SUPPLY!
Before discussing the key theme, energy security, The President opened his remarks with a roundup of more good news that you are unlikely to have heard reported elsehwere. From White House transcript:
...Last year, our economy grew faster than any major industrialized nation. Since August of 2003, this economy of ours has created 5.1 million new jobs. The unemployment rate nationwide is 4.7 percent. That's lower than the average rate of the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. The American people are working. (Applause.)
Farm income is up. Agricultural exports are growing. Real after-tax income is up over 8 percent for Americans since 2001. Productivity is high. More people own a home than ever before in our nation's history. This economy is strong, and we intend to keep it that way. And one way to keep it that way is to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
Yet amongst this hopeful -- these hopeful signs, there's an area of serious concern, and that is high energy prices. And the prices that people are paying at the gas pumps reflect our addiction to oil. Addiction to oil is a matter of national security concerns. After all, today we get about 60 percent of our oil from foreign countries. That's up from 20 years ago where we got oil from -- about 25 percent of our oil came from foreign countries. Now, part of the problem is, is that some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments, or agendas that are hostile to the United States. These countries know we need their oil, and that reduces our influence, our ability to keep the peace in some areas. And so energy supply is a matter of national security. It's also a matter of economic security.
Gasoline price increases are like a hidden tax on the working people. They're like a tax on our farmers. They're like a tax on small businesses. Energy prices are -- energy experts predict gas prices are going to remain high throughout the summer, and that's going to be a continued strain on the American people.
And so the fundamental question is, what are we going to do? What can the government do? One of the past responses by government, particularly from the party of which I am not a member, has been to have -- to propose price fixing, or increase the taxes. Those plans haven't worked in the past. I think we need to follow suit on what we have been emphasizing, particularly through the energy bill, and that is to encourage conservation, to expand domestic production, and to develop alternative sources of energy like ethanol.
Third part of the plan to confront high gas prices is to boost our supplies of crude oil and gasoline. It makes sense when the supply-and-demand world, if prices are high, it means demand is greater than supply. One way to ease price is to increase supply. One immediate way we can signal to people we're serious about increasing supply is to stop making purchases or deposits to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for a short period of time.
I've directed the Department of Energy to defer filling the reserve this summer. Our strategic reserve is sufficiently large enough to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months. So by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps.
And some have contacted us to determine whether or not they can ask the EPA to waive local fuel requirements on a temporary basis....I'm directing EPA Administrator Johnson to use all his available authority to grant waivers that would relieve critical fuel supply shortages.
Listen, we need to expand our refining capacity. One of the problems we face is we've got tight supplies because we haven't expanded refining capacity. There hasn't been a new refinery built in 30 years. If you're worried about the price of gasoline at the pump, it makes sense to try to get more supply to the market. That will be beneficial for American consumers to get more supply to the market.
Part of the reasons why we haven't expanded or built new refineries to the extent we need to is because the permitting process in this country is extremely complicated. Companies that want to upgrade their equipment or expand their existing refineries or build new ones often have to wade through long, bureaucratic delays and/or lawsuits.
To make this gasoline supply more affordable and more secure, Congress needs to allow refiners to make modifications on their refineries without having to wait for years to get something -- to get their idea approved. I mean, if we want more supply, let's reduce the paperwork and the regulations.
Congress also needs to simplify and speed up the permitting process for refinery construction and expansion. And so I'm going to work with Congress. It's important for Congress to cut through the red tape and guarantee refinery construction permits will be processed within a single year.
We also need to be mindful of the fact that we can find additional crude oil in our own country in environmentally friendly ways. The technology is such that we're capable of environmentally-sensitive exploration. We got tight crude oil supplies, and it seems like it makes sense for us to use our new technologies to find more crude, particularly crude here at home.
One of the issues, as you know, that has been confronting Congress is ANWR. And I fully recognize that the passage of ANWR will not increase the oil supply immediately. But it's also important to understand that if ANWR had been law a decade ago, America would be producing about a million additional barrels of oil a day, and that would increase our current level of domestic supply by 20 percent. We've got to be wise about energy policy here in America. We've got to make sure that we protect the environment, but we've also got to make sure that we find additional supplies of crude oil in order to take the pressure off the price of crude, which takes the pressure off the price of gasoline at the pump.
And all I've outlined here today are interim strategies -- short-term and interim strategy. The truth of the matter is, the long-term strategy is to power our automobiles with something other than oil -- (applause) -- something other than gasoline, which is derived from oil.