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Sen. Clinton: Cut Oil Imports by 50% by 2025

In a speech to the National Press Club, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) called for a targeted reduction in oil consumption equivalent to 50% of imported oil by 2025—roughly equivalent to 8 million barrels per day.

Achieving that goal is feasible, she argued, based on increased use of biofuels, greater vehicle efficiency, increased use of renewables for power generation, and judicious use of clean coal, among others.

We can’t just point fingers and, sort of, place blame on anyone else: foreigners over there, oil companies over here. The ball is in our court. It is up to us to act and to act soon. It is going to require a virtual revolution in our thinking about energy and in the actions that must follow.

...we need to resist the idea that kicking the oil habit will wreck our economy. In fact, the greater risk is that we will wreck our economy by failing to kick the habit. Second, we need to discard the myth that conservation can’t play a large role in our transformation. The easiest way to reduce our dependence on oil immediately is to use less.

Now, I believe a 50 by ’25 initiative will energize our economy, not undermine it. And how will we get there? Two words: innovation and efficiency.

Clinton outlined three primary approaches:

  • Converting the liquid fuel base from oil to biomass, reducing consumption of petroleum by up to 4 million barrels per day by 2025.

  • Switch from high-carbon electricity sources to low-carbon electricity sources through innovations in renewables such as solar and wind, as well as carbon dioxide sequestration.

  • Increasing efficiency in cars, buildings, power plants and manufacturing processes for a reduction of another 4 million barrels a day. “The surest way to reduce oil consumption is through hybrid technology that increases fuel-efficiency by 30% to 40%.

To support the efforts, Clinton is introducing legislation for a $50-billion “Strategic Energy Fund”, the money for which would come from a combination of a windfall profit levy on oil companies and a repealing of their tax breaks. Oil companies that invested on their own in renewable energy would be exempt from paying into the fund.

So I support comprehensive legislation that would overhaul our energy taxes; signal the market we’re in this for the long run by extending for 10 years the production tax credit [for renewables]; spur demand by doubling consumer tax breaks for hybrids, clean diesel and other advanced vehicles; and create a new tax incentive for fleet owners to purchase more efficient vehicles; speed the development of cellulosic ethanol by providing loan guarantees for the first billion gallons of commercial production capacity; ramp up the availability of ethanol by providing gas station owners with a 50 percent tax credit for the cost of installing ethanol pumps; and then extend and increase tax incentives for homeowners and businesses who will make their homes and businesses more energy-efficient—there's a lot of good information out there abut how to do it, but unfortunately not much incentive to do it.

She proposed that over the next five years, $9 billion from the strategic energy fund flow to an advanced research project agency for energy (ARPA-E). (Earlier post.) She also proposed applying $1 billion from the strategic energy fund into research on cellulosic ethanol.

...we have to deal with coal, because we have huge resources of coal. Coal is to us what oil is to Saudi Arabia. And part of our domestic strategy must involve coal.

Clinton proposed two steps to “scale up the potential of clean coal:”

  • Undertake five large-scale tests of geologic carbon sequestration in a variety of settings to really investigate the viability of this technology.

  • Provide tax credits for carbon sequestration to encourage domestic oil production.

Comments

Rafael Seidl

t -

Ethanol from corn is purely a boondoggle for midwestern farmers, much like biodiesel from rapeseed is for European farmers. Depending on whom you ask and how you count, the fossil fuel energy of the production processes (soil tilling, fertilization, harvesting, threshing, transport to the refinery, refining etc. excl. sunlight) currently constitutes 80-90% of the energy contained in the refinery products. In other words, the environmental upsides are fairly marginal.

Things look different when you use tropical plant feedstocks, such as sugarcane for ethanol (energy ratio 8:1) or jatropha or palm oil for biodiesel. That may not help OECD consumers directly. However, crude oil prices would be even higher if Brazil, India, Thailand et al. did not already produce some amount of these alternative fuels.

In our Northern latitudes, we will need second-generation processes: cellulosic ethanol and various ways of producing synthesis gas from biomass and/or waste are either in the R&D pipeline or ready to go, albeit at a steep price. Using agricultural waste streams like corn stover to produce fuel should allow farmers to earn their keep without subsidies.

The question is, do you count some fraction of your military expenditure toward the cost of securing your energy supply? Are the current conventional efforts cost-effective? If not, would it not make more sense to invest that fraction in renewable domestic fuel sources?

For reference, the $50 billion Sen. Clinton is proposing is equal to just 1/8 of the annual Pentagon budget excl. supplementary huge budgets for the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. In that context, it makes perfect sense to me to prime the market for biogenic fuel components using the technology available by mandating low percentage blends that can be tolerated by all vehicles on the road today. High blends like E85 or B100 are a crock because they require a completely new distrribution infrastructure and vehicle modifications - the Big Three only built flex-fuel vvehicles to exploit a CAFE loophole.

Just be sure to press ahead with those next-gen processes as well and, to prepare the ground (politically & technologically) for their large-scale deployment. In my book, that means a sharply reduced US defense budget, lower income taxes and high prices at the pump for a decade because that will favor a fllet churn toward more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The EU and Japan have their own political dynamics favoring renewable fuels. The demand reduction requirement is smaller than in the US because fuel taxes are anyhow much higher and have been for decades.

tom deplume

Until fossil fuel rationing is put on the table I won't buy any politician's conservation program.

James White

CalCars has a picture of Hillary standing in front of one of their 100+mpg plug-in hybrids that was in D.C. last week but she doesn't get it. PHEV's offer our best hope for getting off of oil and getting more renewable energy into our transportation industry. I'm not a fan of G.W. Bush, but even he understands PHEV's. Why didn't she talk about them? We need somebody who gets it. I'm still hoping to find that person.

Coal-to-liquid plants are certainly not the solution because of their huge green house gas emissions and mountaintop mining practices. The best technology we have today for sequestering carbon from coal is to leave it in the ground.

Tony Chilling

James: "The best technology we have today for sequestering carbon from coal is to leave it in the ground."
Absolutely correct. But.... we have too much of the stuff and is cheap enough. So we will be in the ground along time before they keep coal in the ground.

fyi CO2

Nice context, Tony!

stomv

Folks, the transition to a carbon-sustainable energy economy won't come in one step, or even a small number of large steps.

It will come incrementally, and that transition requires lots of different fuels, fuel transitions, and energy mining techniques.

Instead of pissing on any plan for not being perfect, consider instead:
* pointing out what you think is a good part of the plan, and why
* pointing out which parts are counterproductive, and why
* pointing out what is missing completely, and how it would help


I'd like to see more work on PHEVs to be sure, but her part about reducing the carbon released in generating electricity is the first step of that transition. Surely everyone around here agrees with increasing efficiency. As for Ethanol, I don't think we'll be using corn-based Ethanol in 2050, but I do think that corn-based Ethanol is better than pure gasoline (admittedly, by about 10%), and furthermore if it helps transition away from pure gasoline to an Ethanol based on sugar, bacteria, or some yet-discovered process, then it will be worth it. I also think the elimination of tax breaks for energy companies is long overdue. The 10 year tax break commitment for renewable energy is a fine idea, necessary to encourage the massive up-front investment in wind farms and other green-e projects. Generally, I think that consumer tax breaks for good behavior aren't as efficient as consumer tax penalties for bad behavior, but both are better than no reinforcement for behavior.

A great way to add even more funds to her proposal would be to increase the federal gasoline tax from $0.184 to $0.20, yielding $5 billion per year (it'd raise tax revenues from $58 billion to $63 billion, ignoring the incredibly slight decrease in demand due to raising the price one and a half pennies).

Unfortunately, raising the gas tax isn't politically viable.

Stan Peterson

A politician bloviates and like lockstep everone falls in line.

Phooey.

PHEVs will come remove our need for petroleum in the ground tansportation sector and replace a mjor portion with electrons. Nuclear, Fusion, renewables, and yes fossil will provide the electrons to power our technological society.

Why? Because people are not stupid. It better for their economics and incidently better for the increasingly clean environment.

We don't need some ass to take $50 billion of boodling money and do not one G*d damn thing with it, other than reward her phoneys, enrich her political warchest, and add an imprimatur to their senseless ideas.

Let them get the hell out of the way. Thats all that is needed.

John M. Kocol

Senator Clinton said "...we have to deal with
coal, because we have huge resources of coal.
Coal is to us what oil is to Saudi Arabia. And
part of our domestic strategy must involve coal."

Senator Clinton's support for the coal2oil industry
is greatly appreciated. Very clean coal-to-oil
alternative fuel will make America energy independent.

Josh

I hope hope the Clintlickers can get her elected. She deserves the same satisfaction that Bill got in the oval office.

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