NEC Director Allan Hubbard and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman play cleanup after George W. Bush:
KR Washington Bureau | 02/01/2006 | Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports : By Kevin G. Hall: WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.... America still would import oil from the Middle East.... The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."
Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."
Not exactly, though, it turns out.
"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said....
Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble. Presidential adviser Dan Bartlett [had] made a similar point... "I think one of the biggest concerns the American people have is oil coming from the Middle East. It is a very volatile region," he said....
Alan Hubbard, the director of the president's National Economic Council, projects that America will import 6 million barrels of oil per day from the Middle East in 2025 without major technological changes in energy consumption. The Bush administration believes that new technologies could reduce the total daily U.S. oil demand by about 5.26 million barrels.... But we'll still be importing plenty of oil, according to the Energy Department's latest projection. "In 2025, net petroleum imports, including both crude oil and refined products, are expected to account for 60 percent of demand ... up from 58 percent in 2004," according to the Energy Information Administration's 2006 Annual Energy Outlook.
Some experts think Bush needs to do more to achieve his stated goal.
"We can achieve energy independence from the Middle East, but not with what the president is proposing," said Craig Wolfe, the president of Americans for Energy Independence in Studio City, Calif. "We need to slow the growth in consumption. Our organization believes we need to do something about conservation" and higher auto fuel-efficiency standards.