Remarks on Signing the Bill Amending the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act

May 21, 1987

My goodness, with all of these Congressmen here, I should have brought a gavel. [Laughter] Well, to get serious, this week, we were all given a grim reminder of the human cost of our national security. We grieve the loss of our brave sons, but let no one doubt our resolve to protect our vital interests in the Persian Gulf or anywhere else. The Gulf is a particularly volatile area, but an area of utmost importance to us and to the free world. Our fleet has been there for almost 40 years, helping to ensure freedom of navigation and protect commerce. This difficult yet essential mission will continue.

Today we import only about 5 percent of our petroleum from the Gulf. Western Europe and Japan have a much higher dependency. We saw in 1974 and 1979 the disastrous effects which a disruption of Gulf oil can have upon the economy of the United States and our principal trading partners. We're working to see that that experience is not repeated. Achieving this requires American military and political strength, the cooperation of our allies, as well as economic strength and independence, especially in matters concerning energy.

And today I'm pleased to sign House Resolution 1941 into law. This legislation eliminates unnecessary restrictions on the use of natural gas. It promotes efficient production and development of our energy resources by returning fuel choices to the marketplace. I've long believed that our country's natural gas resources should be free from regulatory burdens that are costly and counterproductive. This bill abolishes unnecessary restrictions on natural gas and petroleum markets. It also eliminates complicated natural gas pricing procedures which distorted supply and demand and raised energy prices paid by consumers and industry. Moreover, as natural gas is a clean-burning fuel, restrictions inhibiting its use have not been in the best interests of the environment. Removal of these and other regulatory obstacles will benefit our economy, energy security, and environment.

In my recent message to Congress on energy security, I urged several measures to ensure our nation has a strong domestic oil and gas industry and substantial protection against oil supply interruptions. These measures, taken together, will result in increased energy security. I have on three occasions proposed comprehensive natural gas legislation to the Congress. H.R. 1941, while not encompassing all that I proposed, is a step in the right direction -- a step away from bureaucratic controls and a step toward a freer and efficient marketplace. However, much remains to be done. Price decontrol and mandatory contract carriage are still needed if the great potential of our domestic energy resources is to be achieved and energy costs to consumers lowered. I would urge the Congress to move forward from here and take action on other deregulation proposals which are awaiting their action.

And with that said, I applaud those who have worked so hard to bring it to my desk, and I will now sign the legislation.

Note: H.R. 1941, approved May 21, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 42. In his opening remarks, the President referred to the attack by an Iraqi Air Force plane on the U.S.S. ``Stark'' in the Persian Gulf on May 18.