WASHINGTON - President Bush ordered federal agencies yesterday to find ways to conserve energy as portions of the nation move toward what could be a long, hot summer of rolling blackouts and high utility bills.
But Bush, a supply-sider when it comes to energy, said conservation is a short-term fix at best.
"What people need to hear loud and clear is that we're running out of energy in America," Bush said. "And it is so important for this nation to improve its infrastructure so we can not only deliver supplies, but we need to go find new supply. And I strongly believe we can do so in an environmentally friendly way."
Bush, who has been pushing to open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy exploration, used yesterday's announcement as a further plug for exploration efforts that have largely been opposed by environmentalists.
"What the vice president and I understand is that you cannot conserve your way to energy independence," he said, referring to a similar assessment offered Monday by Vice President Dick Cheney. "It is naive for the American people and its leaders ... to say that we can be OK from an energy perspective by only focusing on conservation. ... We've got to find additional supplies of energy."
Cheney heads a presidential task force on energy that is expected to release its recommendations in coming weeks. The report is expected to be heavy on ideas for increased production in areas such as fossil fuels and oil exploration.
In a memo largely targeted at agencies in energy-strapped California, Bush told officials to look for ways to conserve power.