Center for American Progress

Bush v. Reality: Speech Obscures His Real Record on Energy

Bush v. Reality: Speech Obscures His Real Record on Energy

Daniel J. Weiss compares Bush’s statements on energy and climate change in last night’s State of the Union to the administration’s abysmal record.

Despite President Bush’s agreeable words on energy and global warming in last night’s State of the Union—calling for reduced dependency on oil, new technologies to capture carbon emissions, and increased production of renewable fuels—his record paints a different picture. For the past seven years, his administration has opposed clean energy and global warming solutions at every turn.

Let’s take a look at what he said in last night’s State of the Union address:

SPEECH: “To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil.”

RECORD: Oil consumption is up by nearly 3 percent since 2006, when Bush said, “America is addicted to oil.”

SPEECH: “Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded.”

RECORD: Bush opposed provisions to significantly raise fuel economy standards in the energy bill and threatened to veto the bill if they were not changed.

SPEECH: “Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.”

RECORD: Bush threatened to veto the tax incentives package that included incentives for clean coal. Congress dropped the incentives for clean coal, along with other provisions for new technologies, because of his veto threat.

SPEECH: “Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power.”

RECORD: Bush threatened to veto the energy bill because it included a renewable electricity standard that would have increased the use of renewable electricity up to 15 percent by 2020. Congress dropped the provision because of the Bush veto threat.

SPEECH: “Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future.”

RECORD: Bush threatened to veto the tax incentives package that included incentives for plug-in hybrids and renewable fuels. Congress dropped these provisions because of his veto threat.

SPEECH: “Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases.”

RECORD: Bush has consistently opposed binding mandatory reductions of greenhouse gases proposed by the European Union and other allies during the G-8 and Bali climate talks.

SPEECH: “This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.”

RECORD: Developing countries were willing to consider binding reductions if the U.S. agreed to adhere to them too. “Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s minister of environmental affairs and tourism…questioned why Washington was not doing more after leaders from emerging economies had dropped their resistance to taking measurable and verifiable steps to reduce their emissions,” reported the Washington Post.

SPEECH: “The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change.”

RECORD: Bush is unlikely to sign bipartisan legislation to cap and reduce global warming emissions. Council of Environmental Quality Chair James Connaughton said, “Right now what we see in the Senate are a number of proposals that are highly complicated and highly constituent interest group focused, and I think that’s not a recipe for success.”

RECORD: Bush also blocked California’s adoption of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from motor vehicles.

SPEECH: “And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology.”

RECORD: Bush has opposed binding reductions for greenhouse gases, even though big companies believe that binding reductions are the most effective way to spur the development of new technologies because they provide certainty for investors that there will be a market for the technologies. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a business and environmental alliance, “believes that swift legislative action on the USCAP solutions-based proposal, entitled A Call for Action, would encourage innovation, enhance America’s energy security, foster economic growth, improve our balance of trade and provide critically needed U.S. leadership on this vital global challenge.”

SPEECH: “To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.”

RECORD: Bush consistently ignored the views of scientists about global warming. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reviewed government documents that “portray a systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change.”

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Daniel J. Weiss

Senior Fellow