Video: Bush: ‘Tough economic times’

updated 7/11/2008 12:51:50 PM ET 2008-07-11T16:51:50

President Bush prodded Congress on Friday to allow oil drilling in offshore waters and in the Alaskan wildlife refuge, citing "tough economic times" for the American people.

Bush met with his senior economic advisers at the Energy Department to discuss soaring prices for gasoline and crude oil. Bush said one answer is to increase supply in this country by tapping "the vast potential" of crude oil reserves on offshore lands and in Alaska as well as in oil shale in the western part of the United States.

With gasoline prices above $4 a gallon, Bush and his Republican allies think American's reluctance to drill in pristine waters and lands is diminishing and that there is an opportunity for oil companies to move into areas that have been off limits.

"And yet the Democratic leaders of Congress have consistently blocked opening up these lands for exploration," the president said. He said that technology has changed dramatically and that oil can be recovered in a way that protects the environment.

"The members of Congress, particularly the Democratic leadership, must address this issue before they go home" in August, Bush said. "They have a responsibility to explain to their constituents why we should not be drilling for more oil here in America to take the pressure off of gasoline prices."

"Crude oil prices are up and one reason crude oil prices are up is because demand is outstripping supply," the president said. "And therefore what can we do about it? That ought to be the question the United States Congress asks."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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