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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dems blast Bush for high gas prices

Capitol Hill Blue

Consumer gasoline prices continue to soar as the Bush administration places too much emphasis on drilling reserves and not enough on alternative fuels, Democrats said Saturday.

In his party's weekly radio address, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida noted that Brazil has announced it will achieve energy independence this year, something the United States has sought since the country's first oil crisis in the 1970s.

"In Brazil, drivers are filling up their cars with ethanol instead of gasoline," Nelson said. "And today in America, President Bush says, 'We have a serious problem. America is addicted to oil.'"

Nelson said Bush acknowledges the problem but refuses to enact policies to address the issue.

"The administration's emphasis is on drilling, a strategy many experts say won't make a dent in the U.S. oil problem," he said.

Nelson noted how the United States has just 3 percent of the world's oil reserves yet consumes 25 percent of oil production.


"We cannot drill our way out of this problem," he said.

The first-term Democrat said the Republican administration must stop being influenced by the powerful oil industry and start promoting production of synthetic fuel from coal and the use of alternative sources such as ethanol.

"We have the technology to raise the mileage standard for all passenger vehicles to at least 40 miles per gallon. The president has urged only a modest 2 miles-per-gallon increase for light trucks," he said.

An oil crisis is looming, Nelson said, with gasoline prices reaching more than $4 a gallon in some parts of the country.

Greater demand and less supply means the slightest disruption "could wreak economic havoc," he said.


"It may be that a terrorist sinks a super tanker in the Strait of Hormuz blocking oil from an oil thirsty world," Nelson said. "It may be a mega-hurricane that goes right up Galveston Bay and shuts down the refineries in Houston."

"Whatever the cause, the crisis is coming."