President Bush's national energy strategy "arrived at the starting line out of gas," Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, told Congress Tuesday.
Owens said the plan gives little attention to conservation, gives few incentives to develop energy sources other than oil, ignores technology to improve oil recovery from existing wells and proposes drilling in the delicate Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.Owens said the strategy is "a platitude, not a strategy at all . . . . The market makes all the decisions and the federal government sits cautiously on the sidelines.
"We might have hoped as brave men and women risk their lives in the Persian Gulf, primarily because of our addiction to oil, that we could have demonstrated at least a little courage here at home to prevent similar conflicts in the future."
Owens complained, "Even without government incentives, we are close to providing power at reasonable cost for great numbers of people with wind, geothermal and solar energy. Yet, there is precious little encouragement of these options while oil, coal and nuclear power receive government approbation."
He also decried plans to allow oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, saying that at most, it "would provide America with less than 9 billion barrels of oil." He said an extra 50 billion barrels could be recovered from existing wells with enhanced oil extraction technologies he plans to push soon.
Owens also complained the strategy would do little to cure America's "addiction to oil."
"We've had three warnings - the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the Iranian Revolution of 1978 and today the Persian Gulf war. We would be foolish to wait for another," Owens said.
He added, "Business as usual is not the answer. If it were, we would have arrived at the solution already."