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Obama’s plan to reduce oil imports


Today, President Obama discussed his strategy to reduce US oil imports, with the goal of a 1/3 reduction in the next 10 years. This announcement complimented his State of the Union commitment to the goal of producing 80% of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 by focusing on the oil and gas section of the US energy pie.  According to a senior White House official, the President’s strategy will focus on increasing domestic energy production while reducing consumption and can be broken down into the following 4 parts:

Part 1 – Increase domestic oil production.

According to the US Department of the Interior, more than 2/3 of offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico and more than 1/2 of onshore leases on federal land are neither actively producing oil or exploring potential development opportunities. This represents a large untapped domestic energy resource that the President will propose we focus on developing. Today, the President discussed the “massive supplies of energy waiting to be tapped” and how we can ensure that these leases do not remain idle.

In response, the oil industry has already made statements regarding the lengthiness of the mapping, testing and infrastructure development process that must occur before oil or gas can be produced. According to the Western Energy Alliance, “…obtaining a lease is just the first step in a lengthy process filled with bureaucratic hurdles…If this Administration was serious about domestic energy production from federal lands, it would ease some of the redundant red tape that is preventing companies from developing leases they currently hold.”

Part 2 – Implement New Natural Gas Industry Incentives

The most unclear part of Obama’s plan focuses on developing domestic natural gas resources by increasing industry incentives for developing resources in a safe and responsible manner.

According to senior White House Official, “we know that in the U.S. we have tremendous reserves of natural gas but we need to develop those resources responsibly in a manner that is not going to impact our groundwater supply.”

Part 3 – Develop biofuel resources

The third part of the President’s 4-part plan focuses on the potential role for biofuels in reducing US oil imports. In his speech today, the President set specific goals for building four new advanced biofuel facilities in the US in the next 2 years.

Part 4 – Reduce energy consumption with efficiency

The final part of the President’s plan focuses on reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency. The President proposed several energy efficiency targets, including vehicle efficiency standards and smart grid standards and goals. This part of the President’s plan will be built upon the research and development dollars that he proposed in his 2012 budget.

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