Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said that a year after the Bush administration unveiled a comprehensive energy plan, progress has been made in weaning Americans from their dependence on oil from places like Iraq. “We have made very significant progress toward every one of our goals,” said Abraham, pointing at efforts to boost U.S. energy supplies and encourage conservation.
Abraham called on the U.S. Congress to pass an energy bill that allows drilling in ANWR to offset imports from Iraq – the nation’s sixth-largest crude oil supplier. The energy bill passed by the Senate would keep the refuge in northern Alaska closed for drilling, while a bill passed by the House would allow drilling.
Abraham said he is hopeful that ANWR drilling will be included in a final bill that will be approved by the House and Senate at the end of negotiations that began in May. “At a time when (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein threatens an oil embargo against America it makes sense to tap a source that could offset 35 years of Iraqi imports,” said Abraham regarding ANWR.
Despite inaction on ANWR, Abraham pointed to advances in encouraging development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as cleaner automobiles. He also reiterated the Bush administration’s support of a plan to bury radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants under Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Such a site is needed to allow U.S. nuclear generators to expand generation, another plank of the energy plan. Nuclear generation provides about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply.