Created on: March 17, 2013 Last Updated: March 18, 2013
On March 15, 2013, speaking at the Argonne National Lab near Chicago, Illinois, President Obama called for the creation of an Energy Security Trust to develop more clean energy for the United States. According to the “Washington Post,” the president suggested that some $2 billion in royalties from offshore gas and oil drilling be used to fund the trust.
The Argonne National Lab, where the President spoke, is part of the Department of Energy. Its mission is to undertake state-of-the-art research, some of which is directed at developing alternative fuels for automobiles. During the 1990s, the Argonne Lab became famous for its development of advanced battery research. Other areas it pursues include renewable energy, energy storage and scientific-based national security concerns.
Addressing the frustration over gas prices
Speaking to the frustration of Americans with constantly fluctuating (and often spiking) gas prices, President Obama noted, “It feels like you’re getting hit with a new tax, coming right out of your pocket. The only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices is to shift… our cars and trucks off oil.”
The Energy Security Trust envisioned by the President would focus on creating new technologies that would decrease the US dependence on oil to power the nation’s transportation sector.
The President first mentioned the idea in his February State-of-the-Union Speech, but his address at Argonne laid out in more detail the nature of his vision. Support from the diverted oil and gas drilling funds would go toward “cost-effective technologies” in the parlance of the White House. That means spending research dollars on energy alternatives such as electric vehicles, biofuels, fuel cells and the use of natural gas to invigorate the transportation sector.
Even Wall Street has shown interest in companies pushing the use of natural gas in the transportation sector (such as trains and trucking), due to its low price and widespread abundance in the United States. In the president’s words, “We can’t afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races forward.”
Bipartisan ideas…or not
The President was also quick to point out that this plan is based on the ideas that emerged from a bipartisan study entitled, “Securing America’s Future Energy,” led by a team of business and military leaders, including FedEx CEO Frederick Smith and Marine Corps General PX Kelley.
Of course, the President shouldn’t expect bipartisan cooperation from Capitol Hill, despite the suggestions of the bipartisan study group. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) was quick to slap down any suggestion that this might be a good idea, suggesting that the President should instead concentrate on leasing more Federal land for oil and gas drilling.
For his part, the President anticipated these remarks, noting in his address at the Argonne Lab that the US was now producing more domestic oil than any time in the past 15 years According to “Bloomberg Businessweek,” “Energy development and mineral mining on US lands and offshore raised about $12 billion for state and federal government in fiscal year 2012, according to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, a division of the Interior Department.”
What the President did not mention, but is also true, is that there is such a glut of natural gas in this country that US companies are now liquefying it and selling it overseas (to nations such as China).
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