Following is the White House's transcript of President Carter's remarks at the opening of his news conference yesterday in the Old Executive Office Building:
After the last press conference I had an uneasy feeling that I had not adequately covered the question about energy and some foreign affairs, so I thought we would have another press conference fairly soon after that one.
About five months ago, in April, I spoke with the American people and with the Congress about one of the most pressing national needs, to develop a comprehensive energy policy. The reason that we have to act is not because we have crises or emergencies at this present time, but because they are imminent and we need to begin preparing now to protect our own economic and our national security well-being for the furture.
With every passing day our energy problems become more severe. We have almost unbelievably spent $23 billion so far this year on imported oil, and we are likely to spend almost $45 billion before the year is over. This is by far more than we have ever bought before. Gasoline consumption was higher this summer than it has ever been before, and now half of the oil that we use, much of it wastefully, came from foreign countries.
No matter how hard we try to ignore it, our energy problem is not going away. There is no easy way to establish a comprehensive energy policy. No interest group or organization can be totally satisfied with every part of our plan. But the House of Representatives has met this very difficult and controversial issue courageously and has adopted almost all of the program that was proposed to them last April.
This proposal is balanced, fair and comprehensive. It contains incentives for adequate production and also protects the interests of consumers.
By relying on incentives rather than prohibitions and regulations, it keeps to a minimum the direct government involvement that would otherwise be necessary to control our energy problems and which exist at the present time.
Oil producers will receive the equivalent of the world price for newly discovered oil, and between now and 1990 oil and gas profits from domestic exploration and production, under my own program, will exceed $430 billion.
We accept these incentives knowing that they are necessary to guarantee future supplies for oil and natural gas. What we do not accept is the argument that we hear from the oil and gas companies that we need to provide incentives for wells that were drilled in 1970 or 1972 or even earlier when oil prices were about one-of what they are now. We do not accept windfall profits for efforts that the producers have already made and for oil and gas already discovered.
I do not support complete deregulation of natural gas prices which would provide windfall profits without significantly increasing supply. Deregulation would cost consumers an extra $70 billion by 1985 but would increase supplies very little, if any. Gas prices have already risen by 500 per cent over the last six years, but we are producing less natural gas than we did in 1972, six years ago.
Along with production incentivies, the national energy plan also contains vital measures to conserve energy and to replace our precious oil and gas with more abundant fuels, such as coal. Let me mention quickly in close three of the most important of these conservation measures.
Unless we pass the oil equalization tax, we will in effect continue to subsidize, with an extremely complicated government program, imports of oil. The gas-guzzler tax incentive for consumers to buy, and automobile makers to produce, more efficient automobiles.
The large industrial users of oil and gas must be persuaded to convert ocoa and to other fuels. This effo persuaded to convert coal and to other fuels. This effo oil savings that we project in the energy program.
And, finally, the rate structure for electric power must be modified to discourage waste. We are now at a turning point in establishing a comprehensive energy program. The House of Representatives has acted. The Senate is still in the process.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the majority leader and many of the Senate leaders for their work towards resolving the difficult questions that now face the Senate, is a difficult job, I know, and at times an unpleasant one, but the irice of falngii to enact a comprehensive energy program is just too high for our nation.
I think the American people are expecting their government, the Congress and the president, to establish an energy program. And I sincerely hope that the Senate will not let the American people be disappointed.
Thank you very much.