Bush Prods Senate to Act on Energy Bill

President Bush (search) argued Wednesday that consumers paying high gas prices won't stand for inaction on energy legislation, even though some lawmakers say nothing they can do would immediately ease the problem.

"My advice is, they ought to keep this in mind: Summer's here, temperatures are rising and tempers will really rise if Congress doesn't pass an energy bill," said Bush, who pressured lawmakers to get an energy bill (search) to his desk before the August recess.

"The American people know that an energy bill will not change the price of gas immediately," he said, "but they're not going to tolerate inaction in Washington as they watch the underlying problems grow worse."

The president outlined his four-point plan to reduce high energy prices: Promote conservation; produce and refine more crude oil in the United States; develop alternative sources of energy, such as renewable ethanol (search) or biodiesel (search); and help other nations, such as China, to become more energy-efficient to reduce global demand for energy. He said it was time for the United States to expand its nuclear power capacity.

"Today, millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of high gas prices," Bush said at a forum on energy efficiency. "If you're trying to meet a payroll or trying to meet a family budget, even small increases at the pump have a big impact on your bottom line."

He said the nation must take action now to address the root causes of rising gasoline prices.

"The primary cause of rising gasoline prices is that the global demand for oil is growing faster than global supply," Bush said. "Here in America we've become too dependent -- too dependent -- on the increasingly limited supply of foreign oil for our energy needs."

Last year net oil imports averaged nearly 11.9 million barrels a day or 58 percent of the crude oil consumed, according to the Energy Information Administration, which projects imports to total 68 percent of consumption by 2025 under current conditions.

The Senate is immersed in what likely will be at least two weeks of debate over energy policy, with much of the rhetoric focused on the need to reduce the country's dependence on imported oil.

Lawmakers have acknowledged that the bill would do little to ensure reductions in oil imports, which accounted for nearly 58 percent of the crude oil used during the first three months of this year.