Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Q Scott, back on the sky-rocketing oil prices, that seems to be just the beginning, as there are reports now that this summer America could face rolling blackouts because there's not enough coal, apparently, to help facilitate a lot of these energy-producing companies. So what is the White House doing to prevent this energy crisis in America that's expected?
MR. McCLELLAN: You brought up -- we had a major blackout last year, and the President again urged Congress to act to pass a comprehensive energy plan. The plan that the President put forward focused on some key priorities, like I mentioned earlier: expanding domestic exploration and production and promoting alternative sources of energy, like ethanol and hydrogen power, things that the President has proposed; and called on Congress to pass modernizing and expanding the electricity grid, an issue here you're bringing up; and passing mandatory reliability standards so the system has adequate capacity; promoting conservation; increasing energy efficiency; and encouraging investment in our energy infrastructure. We need a modern grid.
We also need to recognize that high gas prices reflect a shortage of supply, an increase in demand, and insufficient oil pipeline and refinery capacity. And so those are issues that we're trying to work to address so that we don't continue to go through these problems.
Q Those are long-term issues. In just a couple of days, summer will be here, people will be turning their air-conditioners on. There's a lack of coal. There are going to be rolling blackouts, not in one city, but throughout the nation is expected. What is --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember there is a joint task force with Canada that Secretary Abraham was involved in with his counterpart to look at some of these issues. And our administration stays on top of these issues to address them. And we will continue -- we will continue to do so.
Q What is the White House doing right now to prevent this?
His response? Next question, and if it's an easy one, I'll buy you a bottle of bourbon.
Of course it doesn't stop there-- how could it? Different topic but, well, you'll see:
Q Can I clarify something you just said on Greenspan?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure.
Q You said his term expires in two years.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, on the Fed.
Q Well, then, why renominate him now?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's renominating him for a term not to exceed four years as Chairman of the Reserve. Again, I'm not going to get into speculating on what may occur two years from now.
Q It's hardly speculation. The President is nominating him for another four years.
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said to Terry's question, the President has great confidence in him, thinks he's doing a superb job, and wants him to continue to serve as long as possible.
Q What do you have -- do you have to get some sort of okay from Congress to extend his time limits?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, now you're getting into speculation about something that --
Q No, no, I'm asking you what the policy is. Is --
MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm not going to get into speculating about it at this point. The President has renominated him, wants him to serve as long as possible.
Q I'm not asking you to speculate.
MR. McCLELLAN: But that question does go to speculating about what might happen two years from now.
Q You're the one who said four years.
Q Second question, please?
If you're not going to dutifully write down exactly what I say, then I'll move on -- got it? (I won't even get into what some, counterspin specifically -- though I can't find the post this minute -- have been theorizing for some time: Greenspan is a republican hack).
A question must be asked: is this highly divisive and partisan administration making journalist ask questions like these or are those journalists finally growing some oranges?
Q Scott, as I remember where the energy bill is, it's stuck in a conference between Republicans in the House and Senate. So are Republicans also responsible then for not getting an energy bill to the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's the Senate Democrats who have been obstructing the process and holding up passage of an energy -
Q Well, no, actually, the energy bill has passed --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- plan through their procedural moves.
Q -- has passed the Senate. It's in a conference now between the House and the Senate. So what's --
MR. McCLELLAN: It's through the procedural moves in the Senate that they will not move forward on passing the energy legislation.
Actually the reporter is right on -- look it up. But energy is where it's at and scotty-boy just can't catch a break.
Q Scott, you mentioned that Secretary Abraham was going to be meeting with the producers. When, and what producers?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that the Secretary of Energy put out information about that earlier. He's going to be attending the International Energy Forum in Amsterdam this Saturday and Sunday. And this is a meeting of consumers and -- consuming and producing countries. The Secretary is going to be participating in workshop sessions, as well as bilateral meetings during this session.
Q Is he going to be jawboning there, then?
Q Scott, the Democrats do like to keep reminding the President of what he said as a candidate in 2000 about the jaw-boning of his -- people in the oil industry and the oil business, or whatever. Has the President done any particular jawboning himself regarding this matter?
MR. McCLELLAN: He stays in touch with -- he meets with world leaders all the time, and these are issues he raises in those meetings.
Q What -- give us an idea of what he says to --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think -- I think we tend to read those out at the time. But the President says what I said at -- what I have said repeatedly and what you have heard him say, as well, in terms of not taking action that would harm the global economy, harm the American economy, and hurt our consumers.
For those who don't remember, here's what the President said in the debates of 2000: “I think the president ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say, ‘We expect you to open your spigots.’ … The president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price.” [Financial Times, 2/2/00]
I don't know about you, but I wanna see some damn jawboning before, say, September.