Obama: Use Oil & Gas Lease Dollars To Fund Gasoline-Free Cars

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President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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The sequester is now with us, and Congress has lower approval ratings than South American death squads, but President Obama is doggedly pursuing his green agenda nonetheless.

Today, he will announce a plan to divert $2 billion of Federal oil and gas lease revenues over the next decade from general revenues into an energy security trust fund.

Those moneys would fund research and development of both cleaner fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, with the goal of moving toward vehicular transportation that does not use fossil fuels.

According to reports in The New York Times, Scientific American, and other sources, President Obama will announce the plan during a speech today at Argonne National Laboratory, outside Chicago.

While he first floated the idea during his State of the Union address in January, the proposal will flesh out the details of the subjects to be funded.

Those include additional research on advanced battery chemistries and materials technologies, a broad array of biofuels initiatives, and broader studies on ways to improve the efficiency of all automobiles.

As the Times notes, while there is at least some bipartisan support for moving vehicles off hydrocarbons, the proposal is "likely to encounter strong resistance from Congressional Republicans, who will portray it as a tax on energy producers."

With Congressional gridlock and vicious partisan politics preventing any consensus on a long-term energy plan for the United States, Obama has pursued what he calls an "all-of-the-above stategy" of multiple smaller initiatives.

Those include Federal support and financial incentives for renewable energy, including wind and solar power; increased development of domestic oil and gas resources, potentially including both the controversial practice of geofracturing ("fracking") and the Keystone XL natural-gas pipeline; and longer-term research into non-hydrocarbon energy.

Argonne Lab, where the president will speak, was chosen in part because it has done research and testing on advanced vehicle technologies for decades, from alternative fuels to plug-in hybrids.

But the sequester, says its director, will not only force Argonne to cancel all new programs over the next year, it will more generally devastate U.S. scientific research for decades to come.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

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Much of the basic research in core science since World War II has directly or indirectly been funded by the Federal government.

But that funding is contained within the minority of "discretionary" spend that will be heavily affected by the mandatory cuts contained in the sequester.

Meanwhile, a slow (although growing) ramp-up of plug-in electric car sales means Obama's goal of 1 million plug-ins on U.S. roads by the end of 2015 is unlikely to be met.

Should the U.S. continue to invest in research on cleaner vehicles, renewable energy technologies, and lowering the carbon impact of our current energy use?

Or is that a function that, as some have suggested, should be left entirely to the more-efficient private sector to fund?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (12)
  1. Only in America could nonsensical bookkeeping like this occur.
    Tax dollars are tax dollars - saying that "oil lease taxes" will be used for such and such is total fraud. But the fiscally unintelligent will buy into this.

  2. What do you propose to fund R&D in alternative energy?

  3. Here is the simple plan. Impose a gas tax similar to Europe japan, Australia, Israel, reduce the deficits on onje hand, give a boost to alternatives on the other without spending a penny. At 8 dollars a gallon people will rush for the EV's, and Detroit may finally figure out it can electrify all those big cars and sell them without re-inventing the wheel.

  4. A great idea that the anti-tax and oil interests have managed to scuttle in the past. A gas tax would help the global environment, and by reducing the global demand for oil, bring down the price of crude, resulting in a windfall for developing countries budgets and a greatly increased quality of life for third world poor.

  5. Unfortunately we (in Europe) already have $8/gal fuel prices and we aren't buying EVs either - despite a similar government paid subsidy to do so (UK - £5k). If fuel taxes in the US were raised to our level there would be civil war - a reaction I think Mr O is trying to avoid with what he is proposing but providing a significant chank of cash to do make real progress in breaking the US' addiction to oil.

    I know he is not broadly popular in the US at the moment but to us outside the US he appears an extremely modern President with many very sensible ideas and with the strength of character to bring them to fruition. Good luck to him. MW

  6. Although I do favor higher taxes on gasoline we have to be careful how we do it. That is because our food is moved around the country on trucks and if they have an increase in costs food prices will rise. Also farmers use gasoline as well. One proposal I saw on another blog talked about having electric tractors. Which makes a lot of sense as they do not need to go fast and don't move that many miles. I also dream about the possibility of putting solar panels on the top of 18 wheelers.

  7. I wish him well and hope he succeeds, as hard as the battle certainly will be. Better yet, I wish we could totally ban the sale of non-zero emission cars and power plants. Only by making gas burners and coal fired power plants illegal to build will we finally have a real chance in the fight to save the planet from self-immolation.

  8. US dont need to found nothing. put sale taxes based on car emissions, and give cash back to zero emissions cars. that would do the trick

  9. If you base sales tax on emissions, then zero emissions would pay zero taxes; negative emissions gets cash back.

    Regarding the "need to fund or not"... your tax structure just funded the cash back to zero emissions cars.


  10. The IRAQ war claimed +4000 lives and I've read about +25K injured....and for what? OIL. So I say "Revolt" and buy an electric car instead. Stop supporting the exploiters and their banker brethren. I agree with Congressional leaders calling for the big banks to be broken up! Bank with a credit union or small local bank insead of the big boys. HSBC admitting to laundering drug cartel money and violating the sanctions against Iran was absolutely illegal and the CEO should go to jail!!

  11. Only 4000 lives? and 25k injured? Those numbers are way low my friend unless you don't think the Iraq people matter. Counting the number of Iraqies who died because of us takes the numbers close to 1 million dead and 250k injured.

  12. The US has developed the atomic bomb in a few years. It goes to the Moon - and back - in 10 years. These a achievements show what you folks can do if you focus on specific goal. It is a shame that you lost your pride. President Obama has some chance to set a goal to eliminate, other at least drastically reduce, your reliance on
    oil. Put a $2.00 or $2.50 "Patriot Tax" on each gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel. Move food and goods on trains! It is cheaper and more fuel efficient than trucks. Use this revenue to support research into battery technology and green energy.

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