President Barack Obama today called on Congress to direct $2 billion in revenues generated by oil and gas development into clean energy research as part of a strategy that aims to double renewable electricity generation by 2020.
Obama's Blueprint for a Clean and Secure Energy Future called on Congress to establish an Energy Security Trust that would allocate $2 billion over 10 years to support research into electric vehicles, biofuels, fuel cells and domestically produced natural gas.
Speaking at the Argonne National Laboratory, which focuses on vehicle battery technology, the president said: “After years of talking about it, we're poised to take control of our energy future. We produce more oil than we have in 15 years, we import less oil than we have in 20 years ago. We've doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar with tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it.”
Obama's blueprint also challenges Americans to double renewable electricity from solar, wind and geothermal sources by 2020. It also calls for the Interior Department to make permitting more robust for renewable projects such as solar. Last year, the Interior Department issued permits for 10,000MW of projects.
But the president warned of the potential shockwaves from the sequester as levels of funding for research and development will be cut.
“One of the reasons why I was opposed to these cuts was because they don't distinguish wasteful programmes and vital investments. They don't trim the fat, they into muscle and into bone.
“Because of the sequester, we're looking at two years where we don't start new research. We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of world races forward.”
Earlier this week, Eric Issacs, director of the Argonne National Laboratory, co-wrote piece in the Atlantic along with Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Issacs pointed out that less than 1% of the federal budget goes to fund basic science research – $30.2 billion out of the total of $3.8 trillion President Obama requested in fiscal year 2012.
“By slashing that fraction even further, the government will achieve short-term savings in millions this year, but the resulting gaps in the innovation pipeline could cost billions of dollars and hurt the national economy for decades to come,” they wrote.