(Recasts with comments on energy legislation)
WASHINGTON, April 6 White House economic
adviser Lawrence Summers pressed Congress on Tuesday to pass
comprehensive U.S. energy legislation as a way to bolster an
economic recovery that looks likely to be sluggish.
In a speech at a U.S. Energy Information Administration
conference, Summers said passing legislation would help reduce
uncertainty that may be discouraging businesses from investing
"The cheapest stimulus program in the world is enhanced
confidence," Summers said.
The U.S. Senate has struggled to strike a compromise on a
bill that would reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions
and boost alternative energy without unduly burdening
businesses that are slowly recovering from a recession.
Some Democrats hope a compromise will be unveiled by April
22, which is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Summers said uncertainty over the timing and scope of
energy legislation was hindering businesses from making major
investments in projects, such as building new power plants,
restraining hiring when the economy desperately needs jobs.
"Clarity brings certainty, certainty brings confidence and
that is what moves the economy forward," he said.
Summers did not comment on specifics that might be included
in legislation and also sidestepped a question on the point at
which rising oil prices might hurt economic growth. Oil traded
above $87 per barrel on Tuesday, the highest since October
He did say the U.S. economy has started creating jobs, but
noted it is far short of potential growth or full employment.
"The economy has begun to create jobs again. While we have
a long way to go in an economy that has 9.7 percent
(unemployment) and a trillion dollars short of potential, we
are at last moving in the right direction," Summers said.
U.S. employers, led by the private sector, created 162,000
jobs in March -- the highest in three years, a government
report showed on Friday.
(Reporting by Emily Kaiser and Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Jan
Paschal and Dan Grebler)