The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This weekend marks the beginning of August, the month when many Americans take their summer vacation. This year, however, the high price of gas is taking a toll on summer travelers. Congress is now taking a month-long recess of its own. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders are leaving town without taking any action to ease the burden of high gas prices on families across America.
The fundamental source of high gas prices is the fact that supply is not keeping pace with demand. To reduce pressure on prices, we need to increase the supply of oil, especially oil produced here at home. So in June, I called on Congress to lift the legislative ban that prevents offshore exploration of parts of the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. But the leaders of the Democratic Congress have refused to allow a vote.
Lifting the ban on this offshore exploration would benefit our economy in two important ways.
First, lifting the ban would allow our Nation to take advantage of a large and reliable source of domestic oil. Experts believe that these restricted areas could eventually produce about 18 billion barrels of oil. That's almost 10 years worth of America's current oil production.
Second, lifting the ban would create new opportunities for American workers and businesses. On Tuesday, I visited the Lincoln Electric Company in Cleveland, Ohio, a business that produces welding products used for offshore exploration. If Congress were to permit this exploration, it would mean new jobs at businesses like Lincoln Electric. American drivers are counting on Congress to lift the ban on offshore exploration, and so are American workers.
Bringing these resources online will take time, and that means that the need for congressional action is urgent. I've lifted the executive restrictions on offshore exploration. This means that the only thing now standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is the United States Congress. The sooner Congress lifts the ban, the sooner we can get this oil from beneath the ocean floor to your gas tank.
We also need to take other essential steps to strengthen domestic oil production. Congress needs to pass legislation that allows us to tap the extraordinary potential of oil shale, permits exploration in currently restricted areas of northern Alaska, and enables the expansion of America's domestic refining capacity.
It appears that the leaders of the Democratically-controlled Congress will let the entire summer pass without voting on any of these vital steps to help reduce pressure on gas prices. This failure to act is unacceptable to me and unacceptable to the American people. So when they return from their summer break, Democratic leaders should show that they've heard the frustration of the American people by allowing a vote on offshore exploration. If Congress does not act, they will owe families across America an explanation for why they're ignoring their concerns.
I know that high energy prices are making this a difficult time for many of our citizens, but it is important to remember that these high prices were not inevitable. They are partially the result of policy choices that have been made over the years by the United States Congress. Now Congress has an opportunity to begin reversing that damage. By opening up new resources at home we can help bring energy costs down. And that will help ensure that our economy remains the strongest, most vibrant, and most hopeful in the world.
Thank you for listening.