President Bush talked about the farm bill, higher food and energy costs, expanding domestic oil production, ethanol and other alternative energy sources during a press briefing on Tuesday morning.
The president was critical of Congress blocking efforts to explore in ANWR and to expand capacity and build more refineries, as well as a “massive, bloated farm bill that would do little to solve the problem” of higher food prices. He indicated they were considering a summer moratorium on the federal gas tax to help alleviate pain at the pump and he defended the use of ethanol for economic and energy security.
“The high price of gasoline is going to spur more investment in ethanol as an alternative to gasoline,” Bush said. “And the truth of the matter is it’s in our national interests that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us.”
In reaction to the question, why haven’t you put more resources into renewable energy research, Bush responded.
“We’ve put a lot into ethanol. As a matter of fact, the solution to the issue of corn-fed ethanol is cellulosic ethanol, which is a fancy word for saying we’re going to make ethanol out of switchgrasses, or wood chips. And we’re spending a lot of money along those lines.
But energy policy needs to be comprehensive. And we got to understand we’re in a transition period. The problem is there’s been a lot of focus by the Congress in the intermediate steps and in the long-term steps — the long-term steps being hydrogen; the intermediate steps being biofuels, for example, and researching the biofuels, and battery technology — but not enough emphasis on the here and now.”
Regarding food price inflation, Bush said that “85 percent of the world’s food prices are caused by weather, increased demand and energy prices — just the cost of growing product.” The president said the United States is concerned about the scarcity of food in poorer countries and will continue to be generous in food donations abroad.