The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This is a challenging time for families across our nation. I know many families are worried about rising prices at the pump and declining home values. So this week my Administration took steps to help address both these challenges.
To help address the pressure on gasoline prices, my Administration took action to clear the way for environmentally responsible offshore exploration of key parts of the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that these areas of the OCS could eventually produce nearly 10 years worth of America's current annual oil production. So on Monday I lifted an executive branch prohibition on exploration in these areas.
Unfortunately, a full month has passed since I called on Congress to lift a similar legislative ban, and Congress has done nothing. This means that the only thing now standing between the American people and the vast oil resources of the OCS is action from the United States Congress.
Bringing OCS resources online will take time, and that means that the need for congressional action is urgent. The sooner Congress lifts the ban, the sooner we can get these resources from the ocean floor to the gas pump. Democratic leaders need to show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people. They should match the action I've taken, repeal the congressional ban, and pass legislation to facilitate responsible offshore exploration.
In the short term, America's economy will continue to depend on oil, but in the long term our economic future depends on promoting alternative energy technologies. So my Administration has worked to expand the use of alternative fuels and raise fuel efficiency standards. We're investing in new advanced batteries, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cells. We're working to expand the use of clean, safe nuclear power, solar and wind power, and clean coal technology. With these steps, we're enhancing America's energy security.
To address challenges in the housing market, my Administration announced steps this week to help increase confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two enterprises play a central role in our housing finance system, and we must ensure that they can continue providing access to mortgage credit during this period of stress in financial markets.
So Treasury Secretary Paulson has worked with Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, the companies, and the government regulators on a plan to strengthen these enterprises. I urge Congress to swiftly enact this plan into law. And I also urge Congress to pass legislation that strengthens the independent regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, modernizes the Federal Housing Administration, and allows state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans.
Despite the challenges we have faced, our economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience. Exports have continued to grow, productivity growth has remained strong, and while economic growth in the first quarter of this year was slower than we would have liked, it was growth, nonetheless.
Thanks to the economic growth package we enacted, American families have more cash in their wallets. We now have delivered more than $91 billion in tax relief to more than 112 million American households this year. And in the coming months, we expect more Americans to take advantage of these rebates, and inject new energy into our economy.
I have great confidence that our economy will pull through this difficult period, because I have great confidence in the boundless, innovative spirit of the American people. This is a Nation that has faced tough challenges in the past and overcome them, and we will do so again. With sound policies in Washington and the ingenuity of our citizens, our economy will emerge from this period stronger and better than before.
Thank you for listening.