In a speech at Georgetown University today, president Obama called for reducing the nation’s dependence of foreign oil by one-third by 2025.
Realizing that he comes in a long line of past presidents calling for decreased dependency on energy imports, Obama acknowledged that “we’ve been down this road before.”
” …we can’t rush to action when gas prices are high and then hit the snooze button when prices are low again,” the president added.
The president emphasized that there are “no quick fixes” for rising gas prices and that the time had long passed for implementing a long term strategy to ween the country off of foreign oil.
“Drill baby drill” is no answer
Given the heated rhetoric and sharply partisan politics surrounding energy policy, Obama took on his opponents that accuse him of hobbling domestic energy production and forcing gas prices up.
“[Y]ou had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem,” Obama said.
“The point is, the ups and downs in gas prices historically have tended to be temporary. But when you look at the long-term trends, there are going to be more ups in gas prices than downs in gas prices.”
Responding to charges that his administration is blocking domestic oil production, a frustrated Obama pointed to a Department of Interior (DOI) report saying that two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico and over one half of onshore leases now sit idle. Obama emphasizes, however, that expanded domestic drilling won’t have much effect on gas prices in the near term, as some might suggest.
“So here’s the bottom line — there are no quick fixes. Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t telling you the truth,” Obama said. “And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we finally get serious about a long-term policy for a secure, affordable energy future.”
The Department of Interior has issued seven deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon spill last year, along with 39 shallow-water permits. Obama said the DOI is “working to expedite new drilling permits” for companies meeting more rigorous safety standards in the wake of the Gulf spill.
“So any claim that my administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve ‘shut down’ oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality,” Obama said.
Nuclear & biofuel in the mix
Despite the recent focus on the nuclear crisis in Japan, Obama remains supportive of nuclear energy. “We can’t simply take it off the table,” he said.
“We’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question.”
There are lessons to be learned from the situation in Japan, the president said, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a two-tiered review of nuclear safety in the U.S. to incorporate those lessons.
Obama is also calling for increased use of biofuels, urging the construction of four new advanced second generation biofuel plants in the next two years. Second generation biofuels come from non-food crop sources, such as plant waste, switch grass, wood chips, or algae.
“Mired in the past”
- Obama to detail US energy security strategy (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Obama to Outline Energy Plan – Wall Street Journal (news.google.com)
- Obama Calls to Reduce Oil Imports Over 10 Years (foxnews.com)
- Bingaman worried about energy complacency (politico.com)
- Obama sets out energy future (bbc.co.uk)