Obama's plan to cut imported oil by one-third: Drill, baby, drill?
President Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan to reduce U.S. imports of foreign oil by one-third over the next 10 years that could have come out of the GOP playbook.
Speaking to students at Georgetown University, the president explained that, due to our nation's heavy reliance on energy, when fuel prices increase as they have recently, it affects many aspects of American life.
"In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody," Obama told the audience at the school. "Workers, farmers, truck drivers, restaurant owners ... businesses see rising prices at the pump hurt their bottom line. Families feel pinched when they fill up their tank."
Obama seemed to be echoing a certain "drill, baby, drill" hockey mom when he encouraged domestic oil companies to "take advantage of the opportunities they already have," adding that government should encourage those companies to get motivated.
"Right now, the industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where it's not producing a drop, sitting on supplies of American energy just waiting to be tapped," Obama said. "That’s why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives that promote rapid, responsible development of these resources. We’re also exploring and assessing new frontiers for oil and gas development from Alaska to the Mid- and South Atlantic. Because producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, create jobs and enhance our energy security."
But before anyone gets the impression that Obama equals George W. Bush, the president said that increased domestic oil production is only a short-term tweak to a long-standing energy problem that can only be fixed with alternative fuels such as biofuels and natural gas, conservation and engineering.
"But let’s be honest," Obama said about increased domestic oil drilling, "it’s not the long-term solution to our energy challenge. America holds only about 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves. And even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every one of those reserves, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs."
What is the energy solution? The president said Tuesday it may reside in greener vehicles.
"As we replace oil with fuels like natural gas and biofuels, we can also reduce our dependence by making cars and trucks that use less oil in the first place," Obama said. "After all, 70% of our petroleum consumption goes to transportation. And so does the second-biggest chunk of most families' budgets. That’s why one of the best ways to make our economy less dependent on oil and save folks more money is simply to make our transportation more efficient."
Note: Andrew Malcolm is on vacation.
-- Tony Pierce
Photo: President Obama at Georgetown University in Washington. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press. Video: Obama speaks. Credit: Politico