Obama: Energy Security Trust Will Help 'Shift Cars Entirely Off Oil'

White House says plan will provide $2 billion for research at no cost to federal budget

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on March 15 visited science and engineering research facility Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill., where he reintroduced the Energy Security Trust idea that he previewed during his recent State of the Union address.

In his speech at Argonne (excerpted below; see embedded video for full speech or read transcript), he spoke about gasoline price spikes and the need to "shift our cars [and trucks] entirely off oil."

"Over the past few weeks, we ... went through another spike in gas prices. And people ... weren't happy about it. The problem is this happens every year. ... And it's a serious blow to family budgets. It feels like you're getting hit with a new tax coming right out of your pocket. And every time it happens, politicians--they dust off their three-point plans for $2 gas, but nothing happens and then we go through the same cycle again. ...

"Over the past four years, we haven't just talked about it, we've actually started doing something about it. We've worked with the auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in our history. ... By the middle of the next decade, our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. And the standards that we set are part of what's driving some of the amazing scientists and engineers who are working here at Argonne Labs. We've set some achievable but ambitious goals. So in the middle of the next decade, we expect that you'll fill up half as often, which means you spend half as much. And over the life of a new car, the average family will save more than $8,000 at the pump. ...

"Walk into any dealership today, and you'll see twice as many hybrids to choose from as there were five years ago. You'll see seven times as many cars that can go 40 miles a gallon or more. And as costs go down, sales are going up.

"Last year, General Motors sold more hybrid vehicles than ever before. Ford is selling some of the most fuel-efficient cars so quickly that dealers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand. So by investing in our energy security, we're helping our businesses succeed and we're creating good middle-class jobs right here in America.

"So we're making progress, but the only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices ... for good is to shift our cars [and trucks] entirely off oil. ...

"Let's set up an Energy Security Trust that helps us free our families and our businesses from painful spikes in gas once and for all.

"And in the meantime, we'll keep moving on the all-of-the-above energy strategy that we've been working on for the last couple years, where we're producing more oil and gas here at home but we're also producing more biofuels, we're also producing more fuel-efficient vehicles; more solar power; more wind power. We're working to make sure that here in America we're building cars and homes and businesses that waste less energy."

According to information on the White House website, the Energy Security Trust "will invest in research that will make future technologies cheaper and better--it will fund the advances that will allow us to run cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels and on the technology that will enable us to drive from coast-to-coast without a drop of oil. Over 10 years, the Energy Security Trust will provide $2 billion for critical, cutting-edge research focused on developing cost-effective transportation alternatives. The funding will be provided by revenues from federal oil and gas development, and will not add any additional costs to the federal budget. The investments will support research into a range of technologies--things like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels and domestically produced natural gas. It will also help fund a small number of real-world experiments that try different transportation techniques in cities and towns around the country using advanced vehicles at scale."

In a statement issued to respond to the President's remarks, the American Petroleum Institute said that the proposed Energy Security Trust "misses a key opportunity."

"Eighty-three percent of federal lands and waters are still off limits to oil and natural gas development. By failing to unlock new areas for energy production, the president's plan misses a golden opportunity to create jobs and generate billions of dollars in government revenue," API group director for upstream and industry operations Erik Milito said.