In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Obama proposed “we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. Let’s...free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.” Elements of the concept behind the proposal, one of a number of energy-related items in the speech, reach back to an initiative launched by President Jimmy Carter on 26 April 1979—almost 34 years ago.
Then, President Carter signed a message to Congress asking for the passage of a windfall profits tax—the source for the fund—and the establishment of an energy security trust fund, calling it “one of the most important legislative proposals of my administration.”
A windfall profits tax is the only thing that stands between the oil companies and a huge bonanza of unearned, unnecessary, and unjustified profits. The energy security trust fund is a bridge between the America of today, dependent on foreign oil and shot through with wasteful patterns of consumption, and the America of tomorrow, in which our technology can make us far less dependent on foreign oil.
...The windfall tax revenue must go to create the energy security trust fund for the American people. This fund will help low-income Americans pay the higher energy costs that will come from decontrol. While decontrol will lessen our reliance on the foreign oil cartel, we cannot, in good conscience, place a new and a harsh burden on those who are fighting to escape poverty.
This fund will also help us to improve our mass transportation and will stimulate development of new and unconventional energy sources. We can make it economical to harness the energy of the Sun, the wind, the tides, and the geothermal power of the Earth.
Increased energy can also come, and will come, from better uses of oil shale, coal, our forests, and our streams. American innovation has given us the greatest industrial capacity on Earth. We must use our technology and our technological daring to solve our present energy problems.—President Carter
Much later, in 2007, US Rep. John Larson (D-CT-1) introduced H.R. 3416: America’s Energy Security Trust Fund Act. The bill would have imposed a carbon tax on coal, petroleum and natural gas and used the funds to establishes in the Treasury the America’s Energy Security Trust Fund to finance research in clean energy technology, assist industries negatively affected by the act, and provide carbon tax rebates to individual taxpayers.
The bill died; Larson re-introduced the bill in 2009 as H.R. 1337. That also died.