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Obama’s Energy Plan

Administration: President vows to cut oil imports, fight for sustained energy R&D spending

by Jeff Johnson
April 4, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 14

Credit: Newscom
Obama outlined his energy policy during a March 30 speech at Georgetown University.
Credit: Newscom
Obama outlined his energy policy during a March 30 speech at Georgetown University.

President Barack Obama this week laid out an energy plan to move the U.S. away from foreign oil, produce more domestic oil, and develop clean energy products and markets. In his speech to Georgetown University students, he also vowed to fight for sustained government energy R&D spending in the face of intensely partisan federal budget battles.

Obama said his primary goal is to cut oil imports by one-third by 2025, an aim similar to every Administration in recent memory. Obama said his program—which he doubts will be completed during his term in office—would couple government support for more domestic oil production with incentives for biofuels, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, natural gas development, and clean electricity sources.

But increasing domestic oil production alone, Obama said, is not a long-term solution to the nation’s energy problems because the U.S. holds just 2% of the world’s estimated oil reserves yet uses 25% of the Earth’s known petroleum bounty.

Some members of Congress and representatives of the oil industry immediately began criticizing his speech, saying that Obama would provide too little support for fossil fuel production. They also charge that the Administration has been stalling on the issuance of oil-drilling permits.

The President is burdening the American taxpayer “with billions upon billions of dollars in taxes to subsidize ethanol, electric cars, and other energy ideas that can’t survive in the free market,” said Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. Drevna urged Obama to “let American consumers and the free market” determine the nation’s use of energy sources.


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