Gas prices were the subject Saturday as President Clinton took to the airwaves with his regularly-scheduled radio address, lambasting the GOP-run Congress and accusing it of "drilling holes" in progress being made to improve energy efficiency and lower gasoline prices over the long run.
Republicans for their part have repeatedly criticized the Clinton administration for allegedy having "no policy" on energy.
"We must do more to free working families from the grip of rising energy costs - especially the price we pay at the pump," said President Clinton.
Mr. Clinton also linked the opening of a Federal Trade Commission investigation into the possibility that oil companies are engaging in illegal pricing practices to evidence that gasoline prices are beginning to drop in the hard-hit Midwest.
Pointing the finger of blame at the GOP, President Clinton said that long-term energy security depends on long-term policy.
Mr. Clinton says his administration has proposed measures aimed at long-term energy policy but, he argues, those policies have been consistently ignored or resisted by the Republican-controlled Congress.
"Since 1993, the Congress has approved only 12 percent of the increases I've proposed to develop clean, efficient sources of energy," said President Clinton. "Now the Republican leadership wants to gut the programs they've already approved."
He cited what he called GOP attacks againsefforts to produce "ultra-efficient cars," and what he termed unwise proposals to increase drilling "in our most precious natural areas."
"Instead of drilling holes in our progress, I ask Congress again to approve the steps we have proposed to increase our energy supply, to protect the environment, to increase energy conservation and keep our economy strong," President Clinton said.
He called for tax incentives to support oil production inside the United States and renewed his proposal for tax credits to help families buy fuel-saving cars and energy-efficient homes, buildings and appliances.
"These measures won't just save energy; they'll also reduce pollution and put money back in the pockets of consumers," he said.
President Clinton noted that he has asked for more than $1 billion to speed research and development of clean and efficient energy technology, together with legislation to promote new competition in the electricity industry and to reauthorize the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a hedge against emergencies caused by disruptions in overseas oil supplies.
He asked again for Congress to create a home heating oil reserve in the Northeast.
"If we take the right steps now, we can secure our independence, protect our environment and continue to grow our economy for generations to come," President Clinton said.
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