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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