Remarks Following a Cabinet Meeting
Good morning. I just finished a good Cabinet meeting, and I want to thank the members of my Cabinet for serving our country. We discussed the challenges facing our economy, amongst other things, and we spent time on the high gasoline prices. Every one of our citizens who drives to work or runs a small business is feeling the squeeze of rising prices at the pump, and they expect their elected leaders in Washington to take some commonsense action.
To reduce pressure on prices, we need to increase the supply of oil, especially here at home. So in June, I called on Congress to lift the legislative ban that prevents offshore exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders in Congress have refused to allow a vote. And now Congress is about to leave for its August recess without taking any action on this vital priority for the American people.
There is now a growing agreement across our country that the Government should permit the exploration and development of these offshore oil resources.
Exploration of the OCS would increase our supply of oil here at home. Experts believe that currently restricted areas of the OCS could eventually produce up to about 18 billion barrels of oil; that's almost 10 years worth of America's current oil production.
Exploration of the OCS would also create jobs for our citizens. Yesterday I visited the Lincoln Electric Company in Cleveland, Ohio. It's a business that produces welding products used for offshore exploration. If Congress were to permit exploration of the OCS, it would mean jobs at businesses such as these. American drivers on—are counting on Congress to lift the ban on offshore exploration, and so are American workers.
Bringing OCS resources on line is going to take time, and that means that the need for congressional action is urgent. So I've lifted the executive restrictions on offshore exploration. I've done my part. And that means the only thing now—standing now between the American people and these vast oil resources is the United States Congress. The sooner Congress lifts the ban, the sooner we can get this oil from the ocean floor to your gas tank.
Some Members of Congress say they object to exploration of the OCS, but they are in favor of other actions, such as taking oil out of the Nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Well, if you agree that we need more oil, it makes no sense to say you're for draining our Nation's limited strategic reserve but against tapping into the vast resources of the Outer Continental Shelf.
America needs to take every reasonable and responsible step we can do to reduce pressure on gasoline and energy prices. That's precisely what my administration is doing. We're working to expand domestic oil production. And at the same time, we're working to speed the development of new clean and alternative energy resources. We're raising fuel efficiency standards, expanding the use of alternative fuels, and investing in next-generation fuels such as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. We're investing in new advanced batteries and plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells. We're working to expand the use of clean, safe nuclear power, solar and wind power, and clean coal technology. With these steps, we're enhancing America's energy security and increasing the supply of clean, safe energy made right here in the United States of America.
The time for action is now. This is a difficult period for millions of American families. Every extra dollar they have to spend because of high gas prices is one less dollar they can use to put food on the table or to pay the rent or meet their mortgages. The American people are rightly frustrated by the failure of Democratic leaders in Congress to enact commonsense solutions, like the development of the oil resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.
There are now just a couple of days left before Congress leaves for its August recess. Legislation to open up this offshore exploration is pending in both the House and the Senate, and all the Democratic leaders have to do is to allow a vote. They should not leave Washington without doing so.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:59 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.
George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Cabinet Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/278289