The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. We will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term.
Achieving energy independence is vital to achieving success both in the war on terror and in globalization. Energy independence will help guarantee both our safety and our prosperity.
We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.
Energy independence has been on our "to do" list for over thirty years, my whole adult life. In 1973, in response to OPEC's oil embargo against us, President Nixon established Project Independence, which promised independence in 1980. We could have been energy independent a generation ago! The truth is, we are so pathetically behind the curve right now that federal spending for energy research and development is only 40% of what it was in 1979. Our efforts are haphazard and often pointless: today we have six million flex-fuel vehicles built to run on biodiesel or on E85, which is 85% ethanol, but only 2,000 pumps for those fuels in a country with 170,000 gas stations.
When energy shocks and crises come, we take aspirin to deal with the pain, but we don't address the underlying symptoms. This oil addiction is killing us. We have to stop popping pain pills and get ourselves cured. For all these years, we've never lacked the means, just the will. We've never harnessed the real energy source that independence requires - the energy of the American people.
The first thing I will do as President is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence. I'll use the bully pulpit to inform you about the plan and ask for your support. I'll use the bully conference table to meet with members of Congress until I have the votes. The plan will get underway during my first term, and we will achieve energy independence by the end of my second term. The Huckabee Administration will be remembered as the time when we finally, finally achieved energy independence.
We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass. Some will come from our farms and some will come from our laboratories. Dwindling supplies and increasing demand from newly-industrialized countries of fossil fuels are driving up prices. These price increases will facilitate innovation and the opportunity for independence. We will remove red tape that slows innovation. We will set aside a federal research and development budget that will be matched by the private sector to seek the best new products in alternative fuels. Our free market will sort out what makes the most sense economically and will reward consumer preferences.
We think of globalization as primarily an economic issue and the war on terror as primarily a military issue. Yet the same key unlocks the door to success in both, and that key is energy independence.
None of us would write a check to Osama bin Laden, slip it in a Hallmark card and send it off to him. But that's what we're doing every time we pull into a gas station. We're paying for both sides in the war on terror - our side with our tax dollars, the terrorists' side with our gas dollars.
Our dependence on foreign oil has forced us to support repressive regimes, to conduct our foreign policy with one hand tied behind our back. It's time, it's past time, to untie that hand and reach out to moderate Muslims with both hands. Oil has not just shaped our foreign policy, it has deformed it. When I make foreign policy, I want to treat Saudi Arabia the same way I treat Sweden, and that requires us to be energy independent. These folks have had us over a barrel - literally - for way too long.
Energy independence will ease the effects of globalization because the future energy demands of countries like India and China, as their middle class grows, are going to be tremendous. Even if Middle East supplies remain stable - a huge if - that increased demand will drive prices up dramatically, which will hurt our economy by making everything more expensive here. But if we are energy independent, we will be able not just to take care of our own needs and protect our economy, we will also create jobs and grow our economy by developing technologies that we can sell to the rest of the world to meet their needs.
Achieving energy independence will make us safer and more prosperous, and is yet another way that I intend to lift America up.