Bush: Energy Breakthroughs Imminent

President touting energy initiatives

MILWAUKEE -- Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would startle most Americans, President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil.

Less than half the crude oil used by refineries is produced in the United States, while 60% comes from foreign nations, Bush said during the first stopMilwaukeeon a two-day trip to talk about energy, said the Associated Press.

Some of these foreign suppliers have unstable governments that have fundamental differences with [image-nocss] America, he said. It creates a national security issue and we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us, Bush said.

One of Bush's proposals would expand research into smaller, longer-lasting batteries for electric-gas hybrid cars, including plug-ins. He highlighted that initiative with a visit Monday to the battery center at Milwaukee-based auto-parts supplier Johnson Controls Inc.

During his trip, Bush is also focusing on a proposal to increase investment in development of clean electric power sources, and proposals to speed the development of biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol made from wood chips or sawgrass.

Energy conservation groups and environmentalists say they are pleased that the president, a former oil man in Texas, is stressing alternative sources of energy, but they contend his proposals do not go far enough. They say the administration must consider greater fuel-efficiency standards for cars, and some economists believe it is best to increase the gasoline tax to force consumers to change their driving habits.

During his visit to Johnson Controls' new hybrid battery laboratory, Bush checked out two Ford Escapes, one with a nickel-metal-hybrid battery, the kind that powers most hybrid-electric vehicles, and one with a lithium-ion battery, which Johnson Controls believes are the wave of the future. The lithium-ion battery was about half the size of the older-model battery. In 2004, Johnson Controls received a government contract to develop the lithium-ion batteries.Click here to view the full text of his remarks.

Later Monday, Bush was at United Solar Ovonics LLS in Auburn Hills, Mich., discussing solar and other energy initiatives.Click here to view the full text of his remarks.

On Tuesday, Bush visited the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to talk about speeding the development of biofuels.Click here to read the full text of his remarks.

As a complement to Bush's travels, six Cabinet officials are crisscrossing the nation this week, appearing at more than two-dozen energy events in more than a dozen states.