By Ben Geman - 03/15/13 08:12 PM EDT
“That is why in my State of the Union address I called on Congress to set up an Energy Security Trust to fund research into new technologies that will help us reach our goal,” he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has similarly called for steering some oil-and-gas production revenues into green energy programs, but her plan differs from Obama’s in one key way.
Murkowski, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants to marry it with expansion of areas made available for oil-and-gas leasing, while Obama’s plan would not do so.
Many Republicans want to open areas such as the East Coast that remain off-limits to drilling, and support a more aggressive leasing program in Arctic seas off Alaska’s coast.
A House GOP leadership aide voiced skepticism over Obama’s proposal.
“For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed, and blocked American energy production,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The Obama administration’s 2012-2017 plan focuses on continued leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and, in the final years of the program, more lease sales off Alaska’s coast.
But a White House summary of Obama’s plan counters by saying it’s work-able within existing offshore oil-and-gas leasing policy.
“These revenues are projected to increase over the next several years based on a combination of leasing, production, and price trends, with additional revenues potentially generated as a result of reforms being proposed in the FY 2014 Budget,” the White House summary states.
Obama, in the speech, said he’s aware of the pain that gasoline prices create. Pump prices surged earlier this year, and are hovering at around nearly $3.70 per gallon, according to AAA.
“The problem is this happens every year. It happened last year, the year before that, and it is a serious blow to family budgets. It feels like you are getting hit with new a tax coming right out of your pocket,” Obama said.
He touted rules the administration has already completed that would require major increases in auto efficiency through model year 2025, noting they will save the average family more than $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a new vehicle.
But, in calling for Energy Security Trust, he said more can be done, and also cast green energy development as a way to curb carbon emissions and reduce reliance on oil from volatile regions.
“It is not just about saving money, it is also about saving the environment, but it is also about our national security,” Obama said.