Reacting to OPEC's decision to cut oil output, a top administration official on Sunday stressed the need for a comprehensive national energy policy to curb US dependence on imported oil.
"We have a major energy crisis," chief presidential economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, told the NBC television network.
But he noted that last year's gasoline price hikes had been sparked not only by high oil prices, exceeding $35 barrel, but also by a shortage of crude refining capacity in the United States.
"We need more refineries, we need more power plants, we need more natural gas pipelines," Lindsey said. The United States is the world's largest consumer of oil, importing three-quarters of the 19.4 million barrels it guzzles up per day.
Don Nickles, a top US Republican senator from Oklahoma, meanwhile predicted Sunday that a comprehensive national energy policy would be adopted this year.
"I expect by the end of the year we will be successful in passing a broad-based energy package that will help us on energy production ... will help us reduce our dependency on OPEC," he noted.
Saturday, US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham described as "disappointing" the decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut oil output by one million barrels a day.
On Monday, Abraham is scheduled to deliver a major policy address before the US Chamber of Commerce, which is expected to focus on the US energy situation.
In late January, Bush placed Vice President Richard Cheney in charge of a cabinet-level panel to develop a policy that would "promote dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound" production and distribution of energy for the future.
Proposals under consideration include drilling for oil on federal lands, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and expanded burning of coal, which are strongly opposed by environmental groups.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)