Bush expected to address energy concerns in State of the Union

| Tuesday, January 31, 2006

As instability in the Middle East and tensions domestically continue to plague his approval ratings, President Bush was expected to deliver an upbeat message advocating renewable energy technology and policies in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, Jan. 31.

In a Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning, Bush said that along with health care and education initiatives, unveiling long-term plans to keep energy costs low would be at the top of his priority list, according to CNN.

“I’m looking forward to speaking to the country,” he said. “We got a lot to be proud of. We got a lot of work to do.”

The speech arrives about six months after the president signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a sprawling $12.3 billion piece of legislation that addressed increasing ethanol and hydrogen fuel usage, and included incentives to reduce emissions and idling in diesel-powered engines – all of which, opponents said, were not enough to address the country’s high fuel costs and foreign oil dependence.

Mike Joyce,  senior government affairs representative for OOIDA, told “Land Line Now” that Tuesday’s speech would probably pick up where the Energy Bill left off.

“I think that the Energy Bill that passed last year did not resonate with people who put gas or diesel in their fuel tanks, or who are paying their bills, which are continuing to go up each year,” Joyce said.

Bush is not expected to call for a large increase in the gas tax, but instead will instead endorse tax cuts for the development of alternative-fuel technologies, The Associated Press reported. The president is expected, however, to tie problems in Iraq and the Middle East into his fuel-savings plans.

“I agree with Americans who understand being hooked on foreign oil as an economic problem and a national security problem,” Bush told CBS News.

Joyce said he believed Bush would also address drilling concerns, both in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling in the two regions became hot-button issues last year, after Hurricane Katrina left the country grappling with fuel shortages and high prices at the pump.

“I think the president will propose a challenge to the congress to pass ANWR,” Joyce said. “I think that there will be a challenge to Congress to look at additional exploration, possibly off the East Coast, for natural gas, and maybe off the Gulf of Mexico.”

The annual State of the Union address, which has been held in the month of January all but six times since 1934, is specifically outlined in the U.S. Constitution as a way for the president to communicate with the federal legislature.

In 1923, Calvin Coolidge’s speech was the first to be broadcast on the radio, while Harry S Truman’s 1947 address was the first to be televised. Bush’s 2002 speech was the first to be broadcast live via the Internet, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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