Bush takes his energy plan on the road

President pushes plan by ordering government to increase use of alternative fuels, touts use of nuclear power.

WILMINGTON, Del. (CNN) -- Flush with what his administration called a "positive reaction" to his State of the Union address, President Bush took his message on the road Wednesday and explained in detail his plan to reduce gasoline consumption and greenhouse gases in the United States.

After touring the DuPont (Charts) Experimental Station in Wilmington, where researchers are working on alternative fuel sources, Bush also announced that he had signed an executive order to cut back on the federal government's energy consumption.

The U.S. government is the "single largest purchaser and user of energy in the world," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Wilmington.

The order requires the government to increase its use of alternative fuels - including using more hybrid vehicles; to reduce federal petroleum consumption in fleet vehicles by 2 percent a year through 2015; and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy intensity by 3 percent each year, or 30 percent by 2015.

"We're going to purchase more hybrid and flexible fuel vehicles that run on ethanol," Bush told the crowd of about 1,150 people at Hotel DuPont.

"We own a lot of cars, and therefore it's one thing to say this is the goal, it's another thing to actually participate in achieving that goal," the president added. "Secondly, we're going to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles as soon as they hit the market."

Bush also talked about nuclear power as a clean alternative energy source.

"I strongly believe that if we're that interested in greenhouse gases and renewable fuels, this country has got to be aggressive about establishing a safe nuclear power," he said. "If that is one of our objectives, to be serious about dealing with the environment, there's no cleaner source of energy than nuclear power."

Pushing forward with a plan

The speech expanded on the president's energy plan that he discussed in the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

In it, Bush announced what the White House called a "20 in 10" plan - an effort to cut U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent over a decade. Bush said the country could reach that goal by increasing fivefold the current target for producing alternative fuels, and by giving him the power to raise fuel-efficiency standards for passenger cars.

Bush has previously called for Congress to give the administration that authority, as it now does for light trucks. The current passenger-car standard of 27.5 miles per gallon was last raised in 1990.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday that Bush's proposals to reduce carbon emissions widely blamed for global warming won't "force people to choose between having a clean environment and having a job."

"What you have to do is to unleash the innovative potential of the American marketplace on the problem of cleaner, more effective energy, and the president is going to talk about that," Snow said.

On Monday, a group of leading business executives met in Washington and called for steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The White House said Bush's proposals would stop the growth of carbon dioxide emissions from cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles within 10 years.

But Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said they would do "almost nothing" to slow the pace of global warming.

"There is no revolution in global warming policy in anything the president is proposing, no matter how the White House tries to spin it," Clapp said in a written statement. "The numbers are calculated to sound big and impressive, but the president is being just as intransigent on global warming as he is on Iraq - ignoring Congress, major business leaders and the public, who have called for action."

The president has used his annual address to Congress to call for cleaner energy before. But in 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency conceded that greenhouse gas emissions went up in the two years since Bush vowed to cut them by 18 percent over 10 years. The EPA blamed the increase on greater economic growth.

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