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Bush Presses for Congress to Act on Mandatory Grid Reliability

President Bush last Wednesday said that Congress "needs to make sure that reliability on the electricity grid is mandatory, not voluntary, when it comes to our power companies" and also said that federal authorities should have the power to site new transmission lines.

"Current law makes it optional, rather than mandatory, for power companies to ensure reliability across the electricity grid," Bush noted in an appearance in Columbus, OH. "Most of you consider it mandatory for the light to come on when you flip the switch."

The President also said that the U.S. needs "to repeal the outdated rules that discourage investment in new power infrastructure. Incredibly enough, there's a law on the books from the Depression that prohibits new investment when it comes to expanding the transmission of electricity. That needs to be repealed. I mean, we're living in the 21st century. We've got a lot of work to do to make sure that we have reliable sources of electricity coming into our homes and to our businesses."

In addition, Bush said that the country needs "to make sure local disputes don't cause national problems when it comes to developing an infrastructure. Federal officials should have the authority to site new power lines. Listen, we've got modern interstate grids for phone; we've got a modern connection with our highways; America needs a modern electricity grid, too, in order to make sure that we can compete in a global economy, in order to make sure people can find work."

He made his remarks against the backdrop of comprehensive energy legislation that remains pending on Capitol Hill. Bush said that a "sound" energy bill must meet four objectives: "it must promote conservation and efficiency, increase domestic production, diversify our energy supply, and modernize our energy infrastructure. And as we pursue all these goals, we will also uphold our responsibility to be good stewards of the environment."

Bush said that increasing the country's energy security begins with a "firm commitment" to America's most abundant energy source -- coal.

He noted that when he ran for president in 2000, he pledged to invest $2 billion over 10 years to promote research into clean coal technologies. "I kept my promise. My budget for 2006 brings clean coal funding to $1.6 billion over five years, and that puts us on pace to exceed my pledge by more than 50%."

The President also touted nuclear power in his remarks. "Nuclear power can generate huge amounts of electricity without ever emitting air pollution or greenhouse gases. America hasn't ordered a nuclear power plant since the 1970s, and it's time to start building again."

He also said that Congress should provide tax credits for renewable power sources such as wind, solar and landfill gas.

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