President Obama Visits Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant

It’s a little difficult to talk about new projects when your country is $17 trillion in debt, but President Barack Obama has asked Congress to set aside $2 billion for alternative fuel research. Extending his “All of the Above” strategy, today Obama said he wants the U.S. to use monies earned from royalties that oil companies pay to explore to help develop alternative fuels and foster their growth in popularity.

Over the next decade, Obama’s proposal is to develop hydrogen and electric powertrains. New in today’s proposal–and a nod to convincing opposing Republicans–is the addition of natural gas to his docket. Natural gas has boomed in many states around the U.S. despite opposition from environmentalists for potentially harming water sources and creating instability in the Earth’s crust with deep hydraulic fracturing–”fracking”–underground.

Obama has diligently pushed for stronger emissions and fuel economy standards. Under his watch, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy is set to increase from the mid 20s mpg to 54.5 mpg by 2025. But some of his proposals have been fraught with disaster.

Solar panel maker Solyndra went under in a high-profile case after receiving $535 million in federal funds. And neither Fisker nor Coda, two startup automakers who received federal funds, look like they’re going to last too much longer. Fisker founder Henrik Fisker stepped down from his position in the company that bears his name this week.

The federal government set aside $25 billion for “green” startups, but it hasn’t spent any money from that pool in two years. Last year, Obama requested Congress to approve $650 million for battery and EV development; $330 million was approved.

Obama spoke today at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago where plenty of research on electric vehicles has been conducted–successfully, we might add. It also received a large chunk of stimulus money early on.

Today, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a study outlining how to significantly reduce petroleum consumption by 2050. On one hand, the U.S. needs to reduce its energy consumption, and investing in alternative means to fuel cars needs to happen. But from where the funding will come and how is yet to be seen. President Obama wants to skim the funds from oil exploration royalties–without implementing carbon credits like what Europe has.

But the hard fact of the matter–and no American will like this–is that if we are to ween ourselves off oil, why not gradually disallow exploration in fuel-rich U.S. territories altogether and slowly stop importing oil, forcing energy producers to find another way to refine fuel? Why does the U.S. want to pay for new energies with funding from the energies our country’s leaders so adamantly speak out against?

Sources: Detroit News, New York Times, NREL

By Jacob Brown

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