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  India in Spotlight
US to help China, India improve energy use
[ 2005-05-17 08:32:18]

WEST POINT, Va - The United States must help fast-growing China and India become more energy efficient, and reduce its own dependence on foreign oil by finding alternative energy sources, US President Bush said on Monday.

"It's in our economic interest and our national interest to help countries like India and China become more efficient users of oil," Bush said at a Virginia processing plant that makes "biodiesel" fuel out of soybeans.

"That would help take the pressure off global oil supply, take the pressure off prices here at home," he said.

Oil prices reached record highs in April, but have since slipped off the peaks. Surging demand for fuel in China and India, where economies are rapidly expanding, contributed to the price increase.

High oil prices have hurt Bush's poll ratings, and he has been calling for more production to help push prices down.

The United States is the world's largest energy consumer, far outstripping China and India. U.S. demand for oil is about 21 million barrels per day, compared with 7.4 million barrels per day projected this year for China, according to the U.S. Energy Department. India's oil consumption was 2.2 million barrels per day in 2003 and is projected to grow to 2.8 million by 2010, according to the department.

Bush said he would ask leaders of the world's richest nations at a Group of Eight summit in July to help developing countries find "practical ways to use clean energy technologies" and be more efficient in energy use.

China's thirst for crude oil exceeded expectations in 2004, contributing to tight global supplies. Although China's demand growth slowed in the first quarter of 2005, some analysts said this week that its crude-oil imports soared by 23 percent in April.

"We must be better conservers. We must produce and refine more crude oil here in America. We must help countries like India and China reduce their demand for crude oil," Bush said.

"And we've got to develop new fuels like biodiesel and ethanol as alternatives to diesel and gasoline," he said. Such alternatives, also including hydrogen, would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Bush should urge oil companies and refiners to use more domestically produced biodiesel and ethanol.

"The President's energy plan is a bad deal for American consumers and will do nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce our consumption or increase production here at home," Reid said.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an energy bill, while the Senate is still working on its version. "It is time for the House and the Senate to come together and to get a good energy bill to my desk by August, and I'll sign it into law," Bush said.

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi met with U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman in Washington on Monday to discuss global energy issues. That follows Bush's meeting last month with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the president's Texas ranch, at which oil prices were a major topic.

In his speech, Bush also repeated his call for the construction of new U.S. oil refineries and nuclear power plants to supply more energy to the American economy.

"Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American dream, and that tax is growing every year," he added.

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