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Bush in Milwaukee: `Seize the Moment''

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President's Day with the President

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

(Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

___________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release February 20, 2006

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON ENERGY

Johnson Controls Building Efficiency Business

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

11:43 A.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: John, thanks. Thanks for letting me come by to say "hello." (Laughter.) I've got something on my mind I want to share with you. First, Happy President's Day. It turns out most folks in Washington don't work on President's Day. (Laughter.) The only one working is the President. (Laughter.)

I want to talk to you about the fact that I think we're in an important moment in history, and that we have a chance to transform the way we power our economy and how we lead our lives. That's what I'm here to talk about. It's a good place to come to talk about it because, the truth of the matter is, in order to seize the moment, this country has got to remain technologically advanced.

Johnson Controls has been on the cutting edge of energy technology and other technologies for more than a century. And the innovators that work here and the smart folks who work here are on the leading edge of change, and that's why I've come. And there's a role for government to help and I want to explain that role. Before I do, again, I want to thank you, John. I want to thank all the folks who work for Johnson Controls. It's not easy to host the President. (Laughter.)

I had the honor of touring the laboratory on the other side of town there, and it was really neat to see the engineers and the scientists and the Ph.D.s all working hard to apply their God-given talents to help this country remain on the leading edge of technology. It reminded me of one of the challenges we have in America, and that's to make sure a new generation of our citizens are interested in science and engineering and physics. And part of making sure this country is the leader in the world, we've got to make sure our children are properly educated so they'll be ready for the jobs of the 21st century.

I want to thank Congresswoman Gwen Moore for joining us; I appreciate you coming, nice to see you. (Applause.) They tell me this is your congressional district, so it's awfully kind of you to let two other congress persons join us -- that would be Congressman Mark Green and Congressman Paul Ryan. Thank you both for coming. (Applause.) We have eaten a lot of custard in the past. (Laughter.) I'm still recovering, I want you to know. (Laughter.)

I want to thank the Speaker of the House who has joined us. The Mayor of the great city of Milwaukee has joined us; and the County Executive has joined us. Thank you all for coming, proud you're here. (Applause.)

By the way, it's always important, if any of you ever run for office, to always remember to recognize the sheriff. (Laughter.) Sheriff Clarke, thank you for being here, good to see you again. Thank you. (Applause.)

Our economy is strong. It's gaining steam, too. We're now in our fifth year of uninterrupted economic growth. Last year our economy grew at a healthy rate of 3.5 percent, in spite of high energy prices and devastating storms. Real after-tax income is up nearly 8 percent per American since 2001. And that's one of the explanations, one of the reasons why retail sales last month made their biggest gain in more than four years. Homeownership is at record levels. That's a good sign. We want people owning things in America. More minorities own a home than ever before in our nation's history. America's unemployment rate is down to 4.7 percent. That's the lowest level since 2001. We've added 4.7 million new jobs over the last two-and-a-half years. We're doing fine.

The fundamental question is, how do we keep doing fine? The challenge that faces us is -- is how we make sure that the economic growth today carries over for tomorrow. And that's what I want to talk about. In order to understand what to do you've got to understand what got us to where we are today. Part of it is keeping taxes low, by the way, and that's exactly what I intend to do so long as I'm the President, is keep taxes low. Part of it is being wise about how we spend our money. Part of it is understanding how technology plays in the future of the country.

Think back 25 years ago, in the start of the 1980s. It's not all that long ago, really. Some of us remember the '80s pretty clearly. (Laughter.) A lot of kind of grey-haired folks here that lived through the '80s. (Laughter.) Then most Americans used typewriters, instead of the computers. They used payphones -- you remember what those were -- instead of cell phones. They used carbon paper instead of laser printers, bank tellers instead of ATMs, and they played the license plate game on trips, as opposed to DVDs. (Laughter.) Times have changed a lot in 25 years, because of technology.

We're seeing new develops all the time -- new developments -- advanced battery technology allows cell phones to last about 50 percent longer than they did just five years ago. In your laboratory we're seeing -- firsthand seeing the progress being made because of your scientists and engineers in lighter, more potent battery technology. Lightweight parts and better engines allow cars to travel 60 percent farther on a gallon of gas than they did three decades ago.

Technologies are helping this economy become more efficient. Listen to this: Over the last 30 years our economy has grown three times faster than our energy consumption. The economy has grown three times faster than energy consumption. During that period of time, we created 56 million jobs, while cutting air pollution by 50 percent. Technology is really important for the future of this country. And so in the State of the Union, I said that by using technology, we can help make sure this country remains a world leader. And that starts with making sure we change our energy habits.

I know it came as a shock to some to hear a Texan stand up there in front of the country and say, we've got a real problem, America is addicted to oil. But I meant it, because it's a true fact, and we've got to do something about it now. Oil is the primary source of gasoline; it is the primary source of diesel; it is the primary source of jet fuel. And that means that oil accounts for virtually all energy consumption in the vital transportation sector of our economy.

The oil we consume in this important sector comes from foreign countries, most of it does. In 1985, three-quarters of the crude oil used in U.S. refineries came from America; today that equation has changed dramatically. Less than half the crude oil used in our refineries is produced here at home, 60 percent comes from foreign countries. Things have changed since 1985.

Some of the nations we rely on for oil have unstable governments, or fundamental differences with the United States. These countries know we need their oil and that reduces influence. It creates a national security issue when we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us.

Energy is also part of our economic security, as well. That's obvious. I mean, the global demand for oil has been rising faster than supply because there's new economies that are beginning to gin up, new economies growing, like China and India. Oil prices rise sharply when demand is greater than supply. And when they do, it strains your budgets. It hurts our families, it hurts our small entrepreneurs. It's like a hidden tax. And so we're vulnerable to high prices of oil, and we're vulnerable to sudden disruptions of oil. What I'm telling you is oil -- the dependence upon oil is a national security problem, and an economic security problem. And here's what we intend to do about it.

First, Congress passed a good energy bill last summer; I was pleased to sign it. It took a little bit of work. It's kind of hard to get things done in Washington, there's a lot of sharp partisan elbows up there these days. But we got something done, and it's a good bill. It encourages conservation and new technologies and alternative sources of energy. But there's a lot more that needs to be done.

The first thing that needs to be done is to make sure that there's an incentive for private business to invest in research and development. If technology is going to help us change our energy habits and change the way we live, it makes sense for the government to incent people to invest in research and development. Right now we've got what we call a research and development tax credit, which is a major incentive for private companies such as yourselves, to invest in research and development, which will yield new technologies. The problem is, is that the R&D tax credit expires. As a matter of fact, they've only renewed it on an annual basis.

Now, I don't know how in the heck Congress thinks that people can plan properly if they're uncertain as to whether or not the tax credit is going to exist. So, therefore, if we want to be on the leading edge of research and development, then Congress needs to make the R&D tax credit a permanent part of the tax code.

Secondly, government can help. Government provides about a third of the dollars for research and development. Two-thirds come from the private sector, one-third comes from the government. And so I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next decade. (Applause.)

Let me explain our strategy when it comes to energy. So in other words, part of our strategy is to make sure people continue to invest. The research you're doing at Johnson Labs will change people's lives appreciably. But we've got to continue to make sure we conduct research and development if we want to be a leader in the world. If we don't want to be a leader in the world, fine, we'll just quit. That's not how I view America. I want America to lead the world, because by leading the world when it comes to the economy, we're helping our people, we're making our people more productive and productivity increases enhance standard of living. And increased standards of living means the American people are doing better.

Now, I laid out what's called an Advanced Energy Initiative. And a cornerstone of the initiative is a 22 percent increase in funding for clean energy research at the Department of Energy. And it's got two major goals, or two objectives. First, to transform the way we power our cars and trucks. And, secondly, to transform the way we power our homes and offices.

So let me talk to you about the first one. Our nation is on the threshold of some new energy technologies that I think will startle the American people. It's not going to startle you here at Johnson Controls because you know what I'm talking about. (Laughter.) You take it for granted. But the American people will be amazed at how far our technology has advanced in order to meet an important goal, which is to reduce our imports from the Middle East by 75 percent by 2025, and eventually getting rid of our dependence totally.

The first objective is to change the way we power our cars and trucks. Today's cars and trucks are fueled almost exclusively by gasoline and diesel fuel, which, of course, comes from oil. To transform the way we power the vehicles, we have got to diversify away from oil. I just gave you a reason from a national security perspective, as well as economic security perspective why reliance upon oil is not good for the United States.

And so here are three ways that we can do that, change our reliance from oil. First, invest in new kinds of vehicles that require much less gasoline. It's a practical thing to do. Secondly, find new fuels that will replace gasoline and, therefore, dependence on oil. And, finally, develop new ways to run a car without gasoline at all.

The most promising ways to reduce gasoline consumption quickly is through hybrid vehicles. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline-powered engine and an electric battery based on technologies that were developed by the Department of Energy. In other words, this technology came to be because the federal government made a research commitment. That's why I think it's double -- important to double research as we go down the next decade. The gasoline engine charges the battery, which helps drive the vehicle. And the twin sources of power allow hybrid cars and trucks to travel about twice as far on a gallon of fuel as gasoline-only vehicles. That is a good start when something that can go twice as far on a gallon of gasoline than the conventional vehicle can.

Hybrid vehicles are a good deal for consumers and the American people are figuring it out. More than 200,000 hybrids were sold in the United States last year -- the highest sales on record. There's growing demand for hybrid automobiles. And working with the Congress, we came up with an additional incentive, and that is we provide a tax credit up to $3,400 per hybrid vehicle purchaser. In other words, we want to stimulate demand. In the marketplace when there is demand, suppliers will meet that demand, and that's positive, because if you can go twice as far on a gallon of gasoline than otherwise it means we're becoming less dependent on oil. Hybrid vehicles on the road today are delivering impressive gasoline savings.

But there is more to be done, and that's why I'm here at Johnson Controls, because engineers here are working on ways to replace the current hybrid battery technology with advanced lithium ion batteries that are now used in cell phones and laptops. These batteries are lighter, they are more powerful, and they can be recharged quickly. Using new lithium ion batteries, engineers will be able to design the next generation of hybrid vehicles, called plug-in hybrids, that can be recharged through a standard electrical outlet. Start picturing what I'm talking about: you've got your car, you pull in, you plug it right in the wall. (Laughter.)

Development will make a big difference in the performance of hybrid cars and trucks. Instead of depending on the gasoline engine to recharge the electric battery, the plug-in hybrids will have fully charged batteries as soon as you get in the automobile. And that means plug-in hybrids will be able to travel much greater distances on electricity alone, thereby saving more gas for our consumers, thereby making us less dependent on oil.

The plug-in hybrid, they estimate, can initially go 40 miles on electricity alone. So you've got a lot of folks living in cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who generally don't drive more than 40 miles a day. Therefore, within 40 miles you'll be on electricity and using no gasoline. Eventually, plug-in hybrids with lithium ion batteries will be able to get 100 miles per gallon. And now all of a sudden you're beginning to see the effects of this important technology on our national security and on our economic security. But, more important, for the pocketbook of our consumers.

Plug-in hybrids are a really important part of the strategy I've announced, and we're going to provide $31 million to speed up research on these advanced technologies -- this is a 27-percent increase over current funding levels. In other words, we like to -- the experts tell me this is a very good chance to have major breakthroughs and we want to accelerate those breakthroughs. And, again, I want to thank you all for being on the leading edge of change.

We're also supporting the development of advanced fuels that can replace regular gasoline. Here again I'm talking to folks who know what I'm talking about -- I'm talking about ethanol. You've got a lot of it here in Wisconsin because you've got corn. Ethanol is produced -- primarily produced from corn; it's blended with gasoline to produce clean and efficient fuel. And blends with that ethanol concentration of less than 10 percent, ethanol can be used in any vehicle. With minor modifications -- I emphasize "minor modifications" -- cars and trucks can become what we call flex-fuel vehicles that run on a fuel blend called E85, which is a mix of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. That's a positive development.

Ethanol, by the way, can be used in hybrid vehicles. So the more ethanol we use, the less crude oil we consume. And using ethanol has the added benefit of supporting our farmers. I like to kind of tease in a way, but beneath the tease is serious -- it will be good one day when the President is given the crop report. (Laughter.) It says, "Mr. President, corn is up." (Laughter.) And we're less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

America produced a record 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2005, was the record levels. That's twice the level produced when I got sworn in first time. There are five ethanol that plants up and running here in Wisconsin, and more are coming. We offer a tax credit to ethanol blenders of 51 cents per gallon. We're committed to ethanol. It makes sense. Ethanol benefits a lot of folks, but, most importantly, it benefits those who are driving cars.

Now, we're on the edge of advancing additional ethanol production. New technology is going to make it possible to produce ethanol from wood chips and stalks and switch grass, and other natural materials. Researchers at the Energy Department tell me we're five or six years away from breakthroughs in being able to produce fuels from those waste products. In other words, we're beginning to -- we're coming up with a way to make something out of nothing. And this is important because it's -- economics are such that it's important to have your ethanol-producing factories or plants close to where the product is grown.

That's why E85 has spread throughout the Midwest, that's where you're growing the corn. Pretty soon, you know, if you're able to grow switch grass and convert that into ethanol, then you're going to have availability for ethanol in other parts of the country. I mean, there's a lot of stuff that gets thrown away that may be converted into fuel, but it's not just located in one part of the country -- it's located around the country. And one of the goals is to make sure that ethanol is widespread. If we want to affect our consumption of oil, we want ethanol to be readily available for consumers outside certain parts of the -- certain regions of the country.

And so we proposed spending $150 million for government and private research into these homegrown fuels. It's an important initiative. We want to provide our consumers with reasonable, cost-effective ways to help us become less dependent on foreign sources of oil.

And we've got another initiative that I find interesting, and it's important. And that is we're spending money -- your hard-earned money -- on research to develop a vehicle that will not use gasoline and it won't produce any pollution whatsoever. And that's through hydrogen. When hydrogen is used in a device called a fuel cell, it can deliver enough electricity that could power a car that emits pure water instead of exhaust fumes. It's an exciting new technology. We're a ways down the road from bringing it to fruition, but we are spending $1.2 billion over five years to research this important opportunity.

We're seeing some progress, by the way, when it comes to hydrogen fuel cells. They tell me that the cost of manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells has been cut in half, which is good. Research is taking place. There could be a new technology available so that when your children take their first driver's test -- or when some of your children take their first driver's test, they will do so in a hydrogen-powered automobile.

And so those are three steps, three important steps, three steps in which we can help change our driving habits. And by changing our driving habits, we've changed our dependency on foreign sources of oil.

Now, the second objective of the Advanced Energy Initiative is to transform the way we power our homes and offices. And so we've got to diversify our electricity supply is what I'm about to -- I'll give you the bottom line first: We must diversify. Right now, American electricity is generated by four principle sources. Coal accounts for about 50 percent; nuclear power, about 20 percent; natural gas about 18 percent; and renewable sources, like hydro electric, solar and wind power account for the rest.

The most versatile of these fuels is natural gas. And there we have a problem. We have a problem because natural gas is used for more than just heating your homes. Natural gas is important for -- to help create fertilizer for farmers. Natural gas powers heavy duty machinery used for manufacturing and chemical production. In other words, there's a lot of uses for natural gas. And, yet, natural gas has become really popular for electricity generation in recent years and the price has tripled recently. And these price increases obviously affect our farmers, they affect our ranchers, they affect our consumers.

And they affect our businesses. Businesses that rely upon natural gas feedstocks have found that in order to stay in business they've got to move their plants closer to where vast quantities of natural gas are being discovered -- and that's not here in the United States, that's elsewhere.

And so we've got to figure out how to confront this issue. And here's two ways to do it. First, we've got to make sure that we've got enough natural gas to meet our home heating and industrial needs. And one of the best ways to secure supply is to expand our ability to receive liquefied natural gas. It's a super cool form of natural gas that can be transported from overseas on tankers. Natural gas inside of America is generally transported by pipeline. Huge supplies of gas exist outside the reach of pipelines. And technology is being developed that can cool the gas, they can bring the gas over in tankers in liquefied form, de-liquefy it and put it into our pipeline system.

The problem is, is that we didn't have enough sites to set up terminals to receive the LNG. And until there's a place for the LNG to unload, the liquefied natural gas, what I'm talking about isn't going to come to fruition. And so one of the things in the energy bill that was important is it clarified federal authority to site new receiving terminals for LNG. And that's good. In other words, if we need more natural gas to make sure that we take the pressure off the heating bills, as well as meet our industrial needs, we've got to have places for the liquefied natural gas to come into the country.

And the bill also did another important thing, and that is to streamline permitting processes for on-shore natural -- off -- on-shore, off-shore natural gas exploration. In other words, we've got to make it easier and at the same time protect our environment to make sure that we can find natural gas that fits into the pipeline to help take the pressure off of price.

Secondly, we need to reduce our reliance on natural gas for electricity generation. In other words, we've got to substitute other forms of power for natural gas if we expect to be able to maintain a manufacturing base that relies upon natural gas. And the best way to do that is to expand our use of coal, nuclear power and renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar.

Let me start with coal. Coal is by far our country's most abundant and affordable energy resource. It's estimated we've got more than 250 years of reserves. That's a lot, that's a lot. And I'm sure you recognize this, or realize this, but in Wisconsin, when you flip on the light switch, there's a 75-percent chance that electricity is generated by coal-powered plants. In other words, you use it here in Wisconsin.

Coal has the potential to reduce our reliance on natural gas. The problem is we've got to make sure that we can keep our commitment to the environment. Coal requires investment to make sure that we don't pollute our air. And that's the conundrum, that's the difficulty with coal. This country is -- I told you we've reduced our air pollution by 50 percent, in spite of the fact that our economy has grown substantially. We want to continue that commitment.

I told folks when I was running for President the first time around that we would invest $2 billion over 10 years to promote clean coal technology. In other words, I believed, as did many others, that technology will help us deal with this dilemma. And we're on our way, by the way, to complete the promise several years ahead of schedule. In other words, we are committing research dollars to see if we can't use this abundant resource and, at the same time, protect our environment.

The coal research has helped pioneer more effective pollution controls. We're helping coal plant efficiency. We've also implemented new clean air regulations that use a cap and trade system, which gives utility companies incentives to continue investing in clean coal technology. Congress needs to pass my Clear Skies legislation.

But we're getting closer to an interesting, important goal -- that by continuing to invest at the federal level, as well as encourage private investment, we will build the world's first power plant to run on coal that produces zero emissions by 2015. That will be a positive development for future generations of Americans. (Applause.)

I'd like to talk about nuclear power. Today there are more than 100 nuclear plants in America that operate in 31 states, including right here in Wisconsin. The plants are producing electricity safely, and they don't emit any air pollution or greenhouse gases. America hasn't ordered a nuclear plant since the 1970s, and that's the result of litigation -- or because of litigation -- and complex regulations.

It's interesting when you think about a country like France, however, they have built 58 plants since the 1970s; they get 78 percent of their electricity from nuclear power. It's an interesting contrast, isn't it? We haven't done anything since the '70s; this country has decided to recognize the importance of having renewable sources of energy that protect the environment, and 78 percent of their electricity comes from this form of energy. China has eight nuclear plants in the works, by the way, and plans to build at least 40 more over the next two decades.

I'm going to India later on -- at the beginning of next month, March 1st; I'm going to talk about a civilian nuclear power program for India. I'll tell you why I am in a minute, but first let's talk about here at home.

I think we ought to start building nuclear power plants again. I think it makes sense to do so. Technology is such that we can do so and say to the American people, these are safe -- and they're important. To encourage construction of nuclear power plants, there's new federal risk insurance for the first six new plants that will be built in the country. That's part of the energy bill I signed. This insurance helps protect the builders of these plants against lawsuits or bureaucratic obstacles and other delays beyond their control. In other words, there's an incentive to say, let's get six of them started.

The administration has also launched what's called Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative. It's a $1.1 billion partnership between the government and industry to facilitate new plant orders. Chairman Niles Diaz of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is taking steps to streamline the licensing process for new plant construction. In other words, we're analyzing barriers and hurdles and trying to eliminate them so we can start this process.

If we're trying to become less dependent on foreign sources of oil or energy like natural gas, we want to free up our natural gas to keep our manufacturing base intact, we need to move forward when it comes to alternative sources like nuclear power. And there's some encouraging results and the mind-set is beginning to change. After all, the mind-set needed to change; we haven't built a plant since the 1970s. That's a fairly long period of time.

This time last year, only two companies were seeking to build nuclear power plants; now nine companies have expressed a new interest in new -- interest in new construction. They're considering as many as 19 new plants. This progress is going to help an important goal. We'll start building nuclear power plants again by the end of this decade. As part of our strategy, as part of our way to make sure that the future is bright and that America remains a leader in the world is to understand the promise of nuclear power.

We're also going to work with other nations to help them build nuclear power industries. And the reason why is this is a global world in which we live and demand for oil in China and India affects price here in America. And so, therefore, if we can help relieve the pressure off of demand for fossil fuels, it helps the entire world.

And so we've got some challenges, however, in dealing with this issue. And that's why I put together what's called a global nuclear energy partnership. It's a partnership that works with countries that have got advanced nuclear energy programs, or civilian nuclear energy programs like France and Great Britain and Japan and Russia. And here are the objectives of the partnership.

First, supplier nations will provide fuel for non-supplier nations so they can start up a civilian nuclear energy program. In other words, a lot of countries don't know how to enrich; a handful do, and it makes sense that we share that -- share the benefits of our knowledge with others, but not share the knowledge because there's concern about proliferation.

One of the concerns you hear from the critics of expanding nuclear power is all this will do to create proliferation concerns. Well, here's one way to address those concerns -- to say, we'll provide the fuel for you -- and we'll collect the fuel from you, by the way. And after we collect the fuel from you, we need to reprocess the spent nuclear material. By reprocessing you can continue to use the fuel base, but equally importantly, we'll reduce the amount of nuclear waste that needs to be stored.

So here is an initiative that affects us here at home, and an initiative that will help others develop nuclear power so they can generate their economic growth. We want people growing in the world. We want people -- economies to be in good shape. And we also expect others to help us protect the environment, as well.

Another electricity source with enormous potential is solar power. Today Americans use small amounts of solar power, mainly to heat water or to power small consumer products like outdoor lights. After spending some time with you all here, I'm going over to Michigan to go to a company that manufactures thin film, photovoltaic cells. That's kind of a fancy word for cells that can generate electricity directly from sunlight.

The technology -- solar technology has the potential to change the way we live and work, if you really think about it. For example, roof makers will one day be able to create a solar roof that protects you from the elements and, at the same time, powers your house. And that's what these folks are working on.

The vision is this: that you will have -- that the technology will become so efficient that you'll become a little power generator in your home, and that if you don't use the energy you generate, you'll be able to feed it back into the electricity grid. The whole purpose of spending money on solar power -- and we intend to spend $150 million next year in funding for both government and private research -- is to bring to market as quickly as possible this important and impressive technology. It's really going to help change the way we live, we think, and we want solar power to become competitive by 2015.

Another promising renewable is wind. You're getting -- as Laura says, when you speak too long you're a little windy. (Laughter.) I'm not saying I'm wind power -- (laughter) -- but I am telling you I recognize the importance of wind power. More than $3 billion worth of equipment to generate electricity from wind was installed in America last year. In other words, it's a new industry, it's beginning to grow -- $3 billion is a good investment, good amount of investment. Obviously, people think there's potential when it comes to wind energy.

About 6 percent of the continental U.S. has been identified as highly suitable for construction of wind turbines. Some have estimated that this area alone has the potential to supply up to 20 percent of our nation's electricity. In other words, they've identified 6 percent of the country's landmass as a good place for wind turbines that, if installed with the right technology, could have a major effect on the electricity that we all use. So we're proposing additional money for research and development.

I think you're beginning to get the drift of what I'm talking about. We're on the edge of some amazing breakthroughs -- breakthroughs all aimed at enhancing our national security and our economic security, and the quality of life for the folks who live here in the United States. And so, therefore, now is the time for Congress to join me in spending this money. I think it's a good use of your money, to help us achieve major breakthroughs in how we live and how we can reduce our dependency on oil. This is an issue that Republicans and Democrats can, and must, come together on. It's an issue that -- (applause.)

Think about how your children or your grandchildren may be able to spend a President's Day in the future. If you're planning a trip to visit relatives, you can plug in your hybrid car the night before and drive the first 40 miles on your lithium ion battery. If you've got more distance to go, you can fill up at your local ethanol station. If you're in Wisconsin, you'll be filling it up with corn product. In Crawford, it may just be switch grass. (Laughter.) You may decide to travel in a hydrogen-powered minivan, and refuel at a station with hydrogen generated by a local nuclear power plant. When you finally make it to where you're going, you can sit at a house that is lit by clean coal, or wind energy, or solar-powered roof over your head.

We're close. We're close to having this vision realized in America. And by the way, this can all be done -- the whole trip can be done without consuming a single drop of oil. It's within our reach. There was a lot of time when most Americans would never have imagined that we'd be traveling long distance in our automobile instead of a buggy, or sending emails instead of letters. In the life of this nation we have seen incredible and rapid advances in technology -- in the history of this country.

I believe the greatest advances are yet to come. And I want to thank the good folks here at Johnson for helping them come. Thanks for your time. God bless. (Applause.)

END 12:23 P.M. CST

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 20, 2006 3:35 PM.

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