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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Spencer Abraham Holds Media Availability

Aired August 17, 2003 - 09:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at a live picture of the president's point man on the energy situation in the Northeast and the Midwest. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham is now speaking outside NBC studios in Washington. He is making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows.
Let's listen in. He is talking now about trying to pass a comprehensive bill to talk about the infrastructure concerns regarding the energy situation.

SPENCER ABRAHAM, ENERGY SECRETARY: ... somehow now on the energy bill we should be some way or another responsible for its inclusion or its expediting. It just, in our judgment, is not as important a priority as the areas where we have taken a position.

We've taken a position in favor of stronger mandatory reliability standards. We've taken a position in support of incentives so that more electricity transmission's built. We need to get those passed, and that makes passage of the bill the critical issue at this time.

QUESTION: Well, what has been holding it up?

QUESTION: Who is responsible for this?

ABRAHAM: For what?

QUESTION: Republicans, Democrats, or is it regional interest as far as...

ABRAHAM: For what? I'm sorry. For this.

QUESTION: For this failure of...

ABRAHAM: A bill to pass? Well, we've been frustrated and the president has spoken out probably on more occasions about the need to pass energy legislation than almost any other topic. We developed and announced an energy plan in May of 2001. We had 105 recommendations to try to provide this country with the energy security we need.

About 90 to 95 of those recommendations are ones that we've been able to implement through our administration without Congress because they could be done that way. But the last 15 or so required congressional action. It is very unfortunate that Congress is going now two and a half years without finishing this job.

There have been a lot of reasons for it. I'm not going to get in, nor is the president going to do a lot of finger pointing at his stage. The point is let's get the job done now and give the American people the kind of security in regard to energy issues that they require.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

ABRAHAM: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, everyone.

CALLEBS: Once again, that was Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham speaking outside NBC studios in Washington, D.C. And in just about two hours and 40 minutes you can hear more from the energy secretary. He will be with Wolf Blitzer here at noon Eastern Time on CNN.

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