Obama Continuing To Push To Get Cars Off Gasoline

Friday morning, the Obama administration released its second term energy policy to much fanfare. So much fanfare, in fact, that key industries it addresses have had a surge on the stock market, particularly the Natural Gas industry.

The policy, which uses a proposal created by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski for an energy trust fund, would push research dollars into simple, short-term research solutions. Instead of focusing on pie in the sky long-term research, this push for solutions which can be delivered within a reasonable timeframe means that the real push for these technologies is hitting a critical mass.

But how would he pay for this research? By using oil drilling leases. When companies lease land for oil drilling, the funding would go into eliminating our nations need for their product. The more drilling they do, the more funding to eliminate our oil independence would arrive. A brilliant maneuver by the president, giving them exactly what they have been asking for, but turning it into a poison pill.

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For short-term gain, the Natural Gas industry seems to be the most enthused by this, which comes after sale of vehicles running on Natural Gas continue to hit new records. However the push for faster recharging battery technologies, further expanding solar and wind power, and research into better recycling of nuclear fuel, to produce less waste. Individually, these are all good policy. Together, this is a plan set with the goal to halve oil imports by the end of the decade.

But is it enough? We have the technology right now to get off of oil through natural gas. What is standing in the way is inertia. Ever since the federal government began subsidizing oil, 100 years ago, it has gained a huge amount of inertia. Oil subsidies encouraged to replace alcohol fuel pumps with petroleum units.

See how many Natural Gas refueling stations there are in the United States:
And compare to the number of stations… for a single chain, Shell (from their handy “station finder” website):
There are other alternative technologies as well, such as biodiesel and electric, but they are not at a point in the US to expand access to as Natural Gas is. By the president making such a focus on the short-term gain in Natural Gas vehicles gives a bridge technology, a way off of gasoline without requiring a major change to the existing systems, he is telling members of congress that he is quite serious on getting this nation off of its addiction to petroleum.

Eventually the oil will run out, that is certain. If the United States does not get off of its addiction to oil soon, it will find the main driving force of its economy grinding to a halt, literally, as other nations with the foresight to shift their demands to renewable fuel sources overtake us. Even without the environmental concerns of climate change, oil dependency is bad policy, it makes the United States weaker, and it must end. This president has continued to push for the reduction, and eventual elimination, of oil as our primary fuel source. This policy is an expansion of that, using a Republican proposal, and running with it. Now if the GOP attempts to block it, they would in turn be blocking their own measure, and also blocking the very programs they have campaigned on for years. The president has taken the party of no, and made them dance to his tune.

And this nation is better for it.


Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.

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