The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Throughout the past week, Americans anxiously watched weather conditions in the Gulf Coast region. The people of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas were well prepared for Hurricane Gustav — and the coordination between these States and the Federal government was strong.
Now, we're focusing on the relief effort. Gustav caused damage to infrastructure, forced tens of thousands into shelters, and left more than a million people without power. The Federal government is working with State and local officials to repair this damage, to help residents get back home, and to return life in the region to normal as soon as possible.
While these relief efforts have been in progress, we've also been preparing for the arrival of storms like Hanna, Ike, and others that may follow. My Administration will continue to provide assistance to those affected by violent weather throughout this hurricane season. And we will continue to work diligently to coordinate our emergency response efforts with State and local governments.
While the Federal government continues this vital work, there are also important responsibilities awaiting members of Congress as they return to Washington. In just a few weeks, members will be back out on the campaign trail, emphasizing the differences between the two parties. But before they leave Washington, they should show that they can work together on bipartisan measures to help strengthen America's economy: measures like approving the Colombia and Korean free trade agreements, extending relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, and addressing one of the American people's biggest concerns — the high price of gasoline.
The fundamental reason for high gasoline prices is that the supply of oil is not keeping pace with demand. By increasing supply through the use of our domestic resources, we can begin reducing the pressure on prices. So in June, I called on Congress to open up more of America's domestic oil resources for exploration — including offshore exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf. The American people overwhelmingly support this proposal. But throughout the summer, the leaders of the Democratic Congress refused to allow it to come to a vote.
At the very least, Congress should take action on three common-sense energy solutions that enjoy bipartisan support.
First, Congress should open the way for environmentally responsible offshore exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf. Experts believe that these areas could eventually produce nearly 10 years' worth of America's current annual oil production. This exploration is now banned by a provision included in the annual interior appropriations bill. Congress should remove this restriction immediately.
Second, Congress should expand access to oil shale — a domestic resource that could produce the equivalent of more than a century's worth of imports at current levels. Last year, however, Democratic leaders slipped a provision blocking oil shale leasing on Federal lands into an omnibus spending bill. They should lift that ban immediately.
Third, Congress should extend renewable power tax credits to spur the development of alternative sources of energy like wind and solar. They should make these credits long term and expand them to cover all forms of low-emission power generation — including nuclear power. In the long run, increasing production of low-carbon electricity can help us reduce our addiction to oil by allowing us to power a new generation of plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
This Congress has earned a reputation as one of the least productive in history. Throughout this year, Democratic leaders have ignored the public's demand for relief from high energy prices. This is their final chance to take action before the November elections. If members of Congress do not support the American people at the gas pump, then they should not expect the American people to support them at the ballot box.
Thank you for listening.