President Obama is expected to announce a $2 billion program of advanced research today in the hopes of weaning the country’s car-driving public off the gas and diesel-drinking habit.
We first heard of this plan during this year’s State of the Union Address, when Obama proposed “we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will…shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.” The details of the plan were shared this morning with The New York Times ahead of the president’s speech on the matter, which will happen later this afternoon at the Argonne National Laboratory, located just outside of Chicago.
The idea is fairly simple, in theory: the government already receives oil and gas royalties from private companies drilling in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf (the portions of the ocean and gulf just off the coast of the U.S.), but Obama wants to take $2 billion of that revenue stream and divert it to something called the Energy Security Trust. The EST’s mission, in turn, would be to support research in finding energy solutions like alternative fuels and electric technology.
The solution was dreamed up by the non-partisan Washington, D.C. advocacy group Securing America’s Future Energy, which counts as members the CEOs of Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Waste Management, as well as notable former military commanders. Predictably, SAFE is a fan of the president’s idea: it said “we can use part of the revenue generated from expanded oil production to fund the research and development of the alternative fuels and vehicles required to end America’s oil dependence” in a statement following the State of the Union.
There’s only one major issue with this plan—aside from the fact that it requires the action of Congress, which has largely panned Obama’s proposals on climate change and alternative energy—and that’s the “sequester:” laboratories like Argonne are reportedly feeling the crunch of last month’s mandatory spending cuts, and may be slowing their research pace as funds dry up. The Times reports that this money may have to be used to prop up basic research projects already going on, unless the base funds are restored.
What do you think—should we divert oil money to develop future fuels, or is the plan only half-baked? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: New York Times