White House Aims for One-Third Reduction in Oil Imports Within 10 Years

President Obama has pledged to decrease foreign oil imports by one-third over the next ten years, through a mixed policy of rising fuel economy standards, increased domestic oil and natural gas exploration, and continuing efforts to stimulate the growth of hybrid, electric, biofuel and natural gas vehicles. In a speech at Georgetown University, the President re-emphasized the need for adopting a comprehensive and far-reaching new energy plan in the face of rising fuel costs.

“The ups and downs in gas prices are usually temporary,” said Obama. “When you look at the long-term trends, though, there will be more ups than downs… there are no quick fixes.”

The speech highlighted a mix of old and new policies aimed at reducing foreign oil dependency. Among them:

  • Incentives for expedited development of oil and gas resources, including a restructuring of the offshore leasing program intended to shorten the time it takes to get new sites producing.
  • A goal of beginning construction on four full-scale cellulosic or advanced biofuels refineries by 2013.
  • Increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for both cars and heavy-duty trucks. In September, the administration will set new numbers for 2025, which some advocates say could be rise as high as 60 mpg.
  • Putting 1 million plug-in vehicles on American roads by 2015 under a policy of redesigned $7,500-per-vehicle credits, grants for communities with high plug-in adoption rates, and more funding for advanced battery research.
  • An order mandating that all new vehicles purchased for the government fleet after 2015 be “alternative-fuel”—which includes hybrid, electric, natural gas, biofuel and hydrogen-powered drivetrains.
  • Endorsement of the NAT GAS Act, a measure backed by former oil man T. Boone Pickens that would aim to dramatically increase the market penetration of commercial and consumer CNG transportation.

The President also took a stronger stance towards critics like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who have charged that the administration could do more to stem the tide of high oil prices. “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,” said Obama.

While the speech seems to indicate that the administration intends to be more aggressive in its pursuit of energy policies candidate Obama laid out more than two years ago, many questioned whether the aim of reducing oil importation by one-third in just ten years is reachable. “It’s hard to think of anything—short of an economic crash bigger than any ever seen in US history, or perhaps an alien race forcing all of us to take to our bicycles—that could conceivably accomplish such a goal,” read a response post at Grist.org.


  • Lewis Larsen

    In his speech, President Obama wants the US to lead the world in an array of innovative new energy technologies than can help reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. He also feels strongly that nuclear power generation is a vital component of the overall US energy portfolio since, unlike fossil fuels, nuclear processes don’t release carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere and thus potentially help ameliorate global warming.

    His vision for the future of energy is all well and good. However, the potential risks underlying present-day fission technologies are all-too-apparent in the slowly unfolding horror at the failing Fukushima nuclear plant complex in Japan.

    That being the case, is there an alternative nuclear technology that could potentially be developed that might provide society with a much safer, cleaner, even ‘greener’ form of nuclear energy going forward into the future? Fortunately, such a possibility does exist and it is called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions or LENRs. Unlike fission and fusion processes which primarily involve what physicists call the ‘strong interaction,’ key aspects of LENRs depend upon the ‘weak interaction’ — this is exactly what makes them ‘green.’

    Importantly, LENRs are not ‘weak’ energetically — their reaction pathways can release just as much nuclear binding energy as fission and fusion reactions, but without emitting dangerous ‘hard’ neutron or gamma radiation and without producing large quantities of long-lived, hazardous radioactive wastes.

    While little-heralded in the media, the physics of LENRs has been unraveled and published in respectable peer-reviewed academic journals. Thus the basic science is essentially complete; what is left to accomplish is the key task of device engineering. While successful commercialization of LENR is not a certainty at this point, it holds extraordinary promise as a breakthrough energy technology and deserves a far higher level of government and private funding and R&D effort than it has received to date. To learn more about this technology and where it might fit in the global energy portfolio, a White Paper is available at http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarsen/cfakepathlattice-energy-llc-white-paper-excerptapril-12-2010

    Lewis Larsen, President and CEO, Lattice Energy LLC, Chicago, IL

  • John K.

    CNG hybrids: the cheapest, cleanest, and fastest way to break our addiction to oil and offer a bridge to our EV future!

    Right now, Honda could offer a Civic CNG hybrid (it currently offers both in the Civic, just not together), and Ford could offer a Fusion CNG hybrid (it has plenty of experience w/CNG fleet vehicles). Those two vehicles, esp if Honda also offers it in the Civic Coupe, would cover a large share of the market.

  • Hayes

    Obama is Jimmy Carter!

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’ve drastically cut my home’s total energy usage the past few years and attached a video showing some things people can do….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUCl1TruUfo

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Anonymous

    From today’s Detroit News:
    “Carmakers resist new fed fuel rules

    NHTSA and EPA are considering annual increases in fuel efficiency ranging from 3-6 percent between 2017 and 2025, which equates to a fleetwide average of 47 and 62 mpg by the period’s end. The range of government-estimated costs per vehicle is $770 to $3,500, depending on the stringency of the emissions limits.

    Automakers says those estimates are “unrealistic” and pointed to a Center for Automotive Research analysis that said hiking fuel efficiency to 60.1 mpg could boost vehicle prices by 22 percent, cut sales by 25 percent and trim up to 220,000 auto sector jobs.”

  • Charles

    According to the Energy Information Administration (part of DOE) in 2009 the US imported 11,691,000 barrels of petroleum products/day. We used 18,771,000 barrels/day. So Obama’s 1/3 reduction in imported petroleum is really only a 21% reduction in total petroleum use if no additional US produced oil comes on line and we keep exporting a million or two barrels/day.

    In the US about 58% of petroleum is used for roadway transportation. If we want to take all of Obama’s reduction out of roadway transportation, that would be a about a 36% reduction if fuel use.

    According to Wards Automotive the US fleet averaged a measly 22.2 MPG for 2010. If we got that up to just 30.0 MPG and had a similar improvement in commercial trucks we would meet Obama’s goal.

    At least it is a goal. I would not call it a push goal. Just raising the gas tax 2 cents a month for five years maybe enough to get people to make better decisions about their personal transportation, and get to the 30.0 MPG goal.

  • Charles

    If we had listened to Jimmy Carter we would not be in the deep trouble we are in today. Reagan’s morning in America was really telling us to be an Ostrich. Put our heads in the sand and pay no attention to the real problems we faced. In some cases the government is the solution, and not the problem. Dealing with pollution and public safety is one example of government being the only solution.

  • Charles

    One more comment about the peanut farmer. He earned his NPP.

  • Anonymous

    From Autonews.com:
    ‘… Jos Dings, director of Brussels-based green transport campaigners Transport & Environment, says that the official CO2 results given by the manufactures on cars sold in Europe “are less and less a reflection of what we are seeing on the road.”

    Dings says that there has always been a difference between the amount of CO2 a car emits during a controlled test and what it produces when actually driven. He said that gap used to be 20 percent but has risen to as high as 50 percent for models advertised as sub-100g/km cars.

    “We don’t want cuts on paper,” Dings said in a phone interview. “We want them in reality.” ….’ (http://www.autonews.com/article/20110330/BLOG06/303309809/1503#ixzz1I91Q0ImV)

    I’m afraid similar phenomenon is also happening across the pond here.

  • Alexei

    Once again nothing about building energy storage systems (battery based, pumped water, liquid air, etc).
    Energy storage systems will reduce wasted energy in stand by, off peak power stations. Will smooth out the volatile nature of renewables, thus decreasing the demand for carbon based fuels in electricity production and will also help to reduce the amount of nuclear waste per KWatt which was actually used by the end user. The saved natural gas could be redirected to transportation: CNG powered trucks, buses, hybrids.
    As a summary it will make greener not just the transport, but also any other electricity consumer and as a side effect will reduce the demand for imported oil.

  • Anonymous

    Good news. The NEW 2012 Honda Civic is available in natural gas GX model nationwide to retail customers (though not all dealers will carry it). And customers can buy ‘Phill’ for home re-fueling, if local ‘gas’ station facilities are inadequate. (for further info: http://gas2.org/2011/03/01/we-talk-ngvs-with-honda-honda-talks-back/ )
    Previously, the prev. gen. was only sold in selected states and mainly to corporate customers.

  • Elli Davis

    One of the negative aspects of the US intervention in the Middle East region is the fact that a few friends that we have there can very easily turn into our enemies and if it continues this way there will have to be more and more effort made to find substitutional sources of energy.

  • jim1961

    There is a great article in Motor Trend magazine about twenty different new cars that get 40 mpg or better either highway or city or both. Google motor trend 40 mpg club for more info.

  • TD

    CNG is a joke. It will just place us back under the control of the big energy companies. If every one switched to CNG then there would be a CNG shortage and we’d be importing it putting us right back in the same boat of being hostage to big energy and 3rd world cesspools.

    Plus, if I got a CNG car today where would I fill it up? The entire supply chain for fueling cars needs to be changed for CNG. I can buy a plugin hybrid and plug it in anywhere today.

    It doesn’t matter though, because the President’s speech is just hot air. It is the same speech EVERY President gives when gas prices rise. But they, and more importantly, Congress NEVER follow through.

  • Charles

    and to continue TD’s thought:

    And the American people go back into their trance.

  • Anonymous

    There are 16 million CNG powered vehicles in the world today. Its the cargo vehicles like Trucks, Vans, Trains & Ships which will be the 1st to make the switch to CNG / LNG, since they consume lot of fuel and also travel longer distance every day.

    At the next level, the buses & taxis will make the change since they drive 200 – 300 miles / day.

    For private vehicles bi-fueled vehicles with 20-30 mile CNG range will do for daily commute with gasoline taking over for long drives.

    Imagine a vehicle like Volt having small cylinder to run on CNG for 30 miles. This will do for many people’s daily commute.

  • Anonymous

    TD: So where does the electricity that powers your ‘plug-in’ come from? Solar? Wind?

    Or rather, dirty coal or nuclear?

    There’s no free lunch in the world of physics.

  • DC

    The US president can make all the pretty speeches about what they should do, but the reality is, that in the US, the president is little more than a figurehead. Sometimes the figurehead is an insider, “one of our boys”, Reagan, the Bush Clan, other times, he may be an outside, Either way, the dirty energy companies that actually control the united states will only premit the US to change its wasteful toxic energy policy, when there is no more oil left to buystealwhatever. Obama may talk a good game, but thats all he does. He is not in control of US policy in any meaningful way, and on this issue, you can rest assured nothing like it will be allowed to come to pass. At least not voluntarilly.

    CNG wont save the decaying american empire, nor will hybrids, EV’s or Fool-cells, biofools or praying to jesus to send more coal and oil down to you. Stealing other peoples resources is about the only option left and in case you hadnt noticed, that is the only plan that is being implemented…

  • John K.

    TD wrote: >CNG is a joke.

    No, a joke is thinking EVs or even PHEVs are ready for prime time right now. There’s what, 1 PHEV (Chevy Volt), and 2 EVs (Telsa Roadster and Nissan LEAF) on the US market right now. If they weren’t a joke, they wouldn’t require *thousands* of dollars of gov’t subsidies. In 3 to 6 years, after Li ion manufacturing ramps up, they *may* be practicable, but not now.

    That’s why Toyota is outfitting their upcoming Prius PHEV with the *smallest* battery they can that will still qualify for all those gov’t subsidies. They know that spending *over ten thousand dollars* on batteries to save 1 or 2 gallons of gasoline per day is just foolish, and that only a small segment of the US car buying pubic is both: (a) foolish enough to do that, yet (b) also has enough money to buy one, even with the gov’t subsidies.

    > It will just place us back under the control of the
    >big energy companies.

    You mean the same “big energy companies” that produce gasoline or the ones that generate our electricity?

    Yep, nuclear energy is so superior to CNG. Just ask the Japanese….

    >If every one switched to CNG then there
    >would be a CNG shortage and we’d be importing it putting us
    >right back in the same boat of being hostage to big energy and
    >3rd world cesspools.

    Citation?

    Acc to:
    http://www.hybridcars.com/news/compressed-natural-gas-makes-gains-washington-29685.html
    “Unlike oil, natural gas is abundant in the United States, which is commonly said to posses enough of the resource to meet its total energy needs for at least a century.”

    That is worth repeating: “total energy needs for at least a century”! ! ! Yet TD claims we can’t supply enough to power just the cars we have on the road now and we’ll be “hostage to big energy and 3rd world cesspools.”

    >Plus, if I got a CNG car today where would I fill it up?

    At home if you have a gas line and filling up is a LOT faster than the time required to charge an EV/PHEV.

    In CA, there are a lot of CNG filling stations. I expect over the next two years, a lot more CNG stations to open up both in CA, and the rest of the US.

    If they offer CNG *hybrid* vehicles, that will make them even more efficient so you have to fill up less often and make them even less polluting (they’re the cleanest ICE cars out there!) IIRC, Toyota showed off a CNG Camry hybrid a couple of years ago.

    I’d bet that someone could very easily make an iPhone app that will show you the CNG filling stations closest to you/where you’re going.

    For those interested in more info re. CNG vehicles, ck out http://www.cngnow.com

    >The entire
    >supply chain for fueling cars needs to be changed for CNG.

    We’ve been shipping, trucking, pumping NG for a century and know how to handle it and all the variables involved. A lot more than can be said for liquid hydrogen that many people are for.

    >I
    >can buy a plugin hybrid and plug it in anywhere today.

    How many PHV models are for sale right now? 1 — the Chevy Volt, in extremely limited release (like the LEAF).

    Ford, GM, Honda, and many others have plenty of experience making, selling, and servicing CNG vehicles, usually fleet sales in the US, but direct to consumers in most of the rest of the world. Conversion is inexpensive. CNG can set us free from OPEC and funding terrorists years before EVs/PHEVs become affordable w/o gov’t subsidies.

  • tapra1

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