Obama sets goal of reducing US oil imports by 1/3 by 2025; domestic and Western Hemisphere production, natural gas, biofuels, electric vehicles, fleet purchases
Warning that “there are no quick fixes” and that “we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy”, US President Barack Obama announced a goal of cutting US oil imports by one-third by 2025 from the 2008 level of 11 million barrels of oil per day. Obama was delivering a speech on energy policy at Georgetown University.
Meeting the goal of cutting US oil dependence depends largely on two things, Obama said: finding and producing more oil at home, and reducing dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency. While he noted that imported oil will remain an important part of the US energy portfolio for quite some time, Obama pointed to the potential to partner with countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Brazil (earlier post, i.e., an emphasis on regional and Western Hemisphere sources) “which recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and with whom we can share American technology and know-how”.
Increasing US oil supply. Obama noted that last year, US oil production reached its highest level since 2003 and that for the first time in more than a decade, imported oil accounted for less than half the liquid fuel consumed. To increase domestic supply, Obama said:
The Administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production—as long as it’s safe and responsible. He said that the Administration has already approved 39 new shallow water permits, and an additional 7 deepwater permits in recently weeks. For onshore drilling, the Administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well drilled.
The Administration is pushing the oil industry to produce on leases already held. A newly released Department of the Interior (DOI) report shows that more than 70% of the tens of millions of offshore acres under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans. This includes almost 24 million inactive leased acres in the Gulf of Mexico, which potentially could hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
For onshore leases, the review found that approximately 45% of all leases and approximately 57% of all leased acres are inactive. That means that out of a total of over 38 million leased onshore acres, almost 22 million leased onshore acres that are not being used.
That’s why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives that promote rapid, responsible development of these resources. We’re also exploring and assessing new frontiers for oil and gas development from Alaska to the Mid- and South Atlantic.
But let’s be honest—it’s not the long-term solution to our energy challenge. America holds only about two percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. And even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every one of those reserves, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs. All of this means one thing: the only way for America’s energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil. We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy with less of the carbon pollution that threatens our climate. And we have to do it quickly.—President Obama
New sources of energy. The President pointed to US natural gas as one of the options for new sources of energy.
Another substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels—not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and biomass. If anyone doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil. Already, more than half—half—of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels. And just last week, our Air Force used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound. In fact, the Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016. And I’m directing the Navy and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power not just fighter jets, but trucks and commercial airliners.
So there’s no reason we shouldn’t be using these renewable fuels throughout America. That’s why we’re investing in things like fueling stations and research into the next generation of biofuels. Over the next two years, we’ll help entrepreneurs break ground on four next-generation biorefineries—each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year. And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today’s challenges and save taxpayers money.—President Obama
The President also emphasized the need to reduce consumption of oil through increased fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, an pointed to the upcoming first round of efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and the second round of CAFE new CAFE standards for light-duty vehicles.
To achieve our oil goal, the federal government will lead by example. The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country. That’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet, and that’s why, today, I am directing agencies to purchase 100% alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015. And going forward, we’ll partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets.—President Obama
To leverage the existing work being done on developing electric vehicles and a supporting infrastructure, Obama said that the government needed to offer more powerful incentives to consumers, and to reward communities that pave the way for adoption of these vehicles.
The President also emphasized the need for cleaner, renewable sources of electricity, and said that while today two-fifths of US electricity comes from clean energy sources, including nuclear, he thought that could be doubled.
That’s why, in my State of the Union Address, I called for a new Clean Energy Standard for America: by 2035, 80 percent of our electricity will come from an array of clean energy sources, from renewables like wind and solar to efficient natural gas to clean coal and nuclear power.
Now, in light of ongoing events in Japan, I want to say another word about nuclear power. America gets one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear energy. It has important potential for increasing our electricity without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. But I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe. That’s why I’ve requested a comprehensive safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make sure that all of our existing nuclear energy facilities are safe. We’ll incorporate those conclusions and lessons from Japan in designing and building the next generation of plants. And my Administration is leading global discussions towards a new international framework in which all countries operate their nuclear plants without spreading dangerous nuclear materials and technology.—President Obama