Obama's Plan: Reduce U.S. Oil Imports by One-Third
Source: Los Angeles Times, Neela Banerjee (3/31/11)
"Obama pledges to accelerate domestic oil and gas production on millions of acres. The president asserted that all forms of power generation must remain under consideration, including nuclear power."
President Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to reduce oil imports to the United States by a third over the next 10 years, calling for further oil and gas drilling at home, development of biofuels and greater fuel efficiency in new cars and trucks.
Obama vowed to reduce imports in part by accelerating domestic production of oil and gas on millions of acres that oil companies had leased but not drilled on. He also called for using natural gas and biofuels, including ethanol, as a replacement for gasoline in vehicles, and will direct federal agencies to buy 100% alternative fuel vehicles by 2015. The president asserted that all forms of power generation must remain under consideration, including nuclear power, despite the nuclear crisis in Japan.
The president set a high bar for himself that previous administrations have been unable to clear. Since the Nixon administration, every president has pledged to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, without success.
The United States is the third-largest oil producer in the world and it consumes about a quarter of the world's daily oil output. But its share of proven reserves is only 2%.
Obama emphasized that such small reserves mean that the United States could not drill its way to energy independence. But he said his plan would make the United States more reliant on domestic production and oil and gas from allies in the Western Hemisphere, and trim demand for crude oil by increasing vehicles' fuel efficiency and encouraging the use of biofuels.
Most oil industry trade groups and Republican politicians criticized the speech for not doing enough to open new territories to oil and gas drilling and for not speeding up approval of drilling permits to the levels where they were before the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.