Yahoo news/LA Times: Bush, Urging Conservation, Seeks to Boost Fuel Supply

President Bush on Monday urged Americans to drive less and embrace conservation more in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he said he would work with Congress to enact incentives for energy production and refinery construction.

The president also said that he was directing federal agencies to reduce energy consumption and that he would release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as needed to ease the shortages and price increases caused by the hurricanes. . .

In remarks reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s 1977 appeal to Americans to turn down their thermostats, Bush said Monday that everyone had a role to play in responding to the back-to-back storms, which have hampered offshore oil production, refinery operations and fuel distribution in the Gulf Coast region.

“We can all pitch in … by being better conservers of energy,” Bush said after hearing a briefing at the Energy Department. “I mean, people just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption and that if they’re able to maybe not drive … on a trip that’s not essential, that would be helpful.”

The president said he was ordering agencies in the executive branch to cut back on fuel consumption. Federal employees were being told to curtail nonessential travel, increase use of carpools and mass transit and reduce electricity use during peak hours, he said, “as a way for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation.”

I’m glad Bush is taking this stance on conservation. I think he should have done it in 2001, but better late than never I guess. This really is critical, maybe more critical than any other national security measure. Conservation is the way to stay free.

Of course if you read the rest of the article, you’ll notice that Bush is all calling for increased production, increased refining capacity, and the rolling back of some environmental safeguards. I’m disappointed by this (because he’s missing the idea that it is not only fuel shortages that are an issue, but also the global warming-induced weather patterns that many Americans believed caused the killer hurricaines of this year)

But all of that aside, I’m too excited by Bush’s pro-conservation statement. I know he has a long ways to go, but is such a good first step. The real test now will be whether he’ll keep advocating this and whether state and local governments would join in promoting conservation. (or better yet, I’m looking forward to the day when the churches would be promoting conservation)