Speaking at Georgetown University, the president proposed greater use of natural gas, including the introduction of incentives for natural gas fleets such as buses.
He also voiced support for increasing production of biofuels, and promised the creation of at least four large-scale refineries to produce cellulosic ethanol or advanced biofuels within the next two years.
Obama also said he would raise fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, mirroring actions his administration has already taken to raise efficiency and emissions standards for passenger vehicles. And he called on oil and gas companies to develop what he called “tens of millions of acres” covered by leases.
Many aspects of the plan were not new, the Washington Post noted.
“Interestingly, to reach this goal, the administration is largely betting that a bulk of the reduction would come from the aggressive fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles (known as ‘CAFE standards’) announced by Obama in 2009,” Glenn Kessler noted in his Fact Checker column.
“The new standards are supposed to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of passenger vehicles sold between 2012 and 2016. So, notwithstanding this week’s speech, the most significant action taken by the president to reduce dependence on foreign oil has already been taken,” Kessler added.
Natural gas tycoon T. Boone Pickens, author of the Pickens Plan to wean the country off of foreign oil, said, “Converting heavy-duty trucks and high-fuel use commercial fleet vehicles to natural gas can reduce our OPEC dependence now while we wait for technology to power the vehicles of tomorrow… Recent unrest in the Middle East underscores the need to take action now and I’m encouraged by the President’s promise to secure America’s energy future and national security by reducing our dependence on OPEC oil.”
Pickens said that his plan to encourage more heavy duty fleet vehicles to run on domestic resources is included in the NAT GAS Act, which will be introduced next week in U.S. House of Representatives by congressmen John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK), John Larson (D-CT) and Kevin Brady (R-TX).
Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), said, “American taxpayers can’t afford to be burdened with billions upon billions of dollars in taxes to subsidize ethanol, electric cars, and other energy ideas that can’t survive in the free market.
“These endless subsidies only increase the economic pain Americans are suffering, as do the greenhouse gas regulations and similar mandates the Environmental Protection Agency is imposing on our economy that drive up energy costs without improving our environment,” Drevna added.