This post is written by Carolyn Berndt, Principal Associate for Infrastructure and Sustainability, Center for Federal Relations, National League of Cities.
This morning, President Obama laid out his plan to reduce foreign oil imports by one-third over the next decade, calling this new goal “reasonable, achievable and necessary.” Speaking at Georgetown University, the President invoked the pain at the pump that families and businesses feel when gas prices rise, cutting into their budgets and bottom lines, and said that we “will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy.”
“The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity and security on a resource that will eventually run out. Not anymore. Not when the cost to our economy, our country, and our planet is so high. Not when [the next] generation needs us to get this right,” said Obama.
The President’s blueprint for reducing reliance on oil imports calls for both increased domestic production of oil and decreased oil consumption through alternative fuels and energy efficiency. Obama announced incentives to expedite development and drilling of oil and gas from existing leases that are currently not being utilized and called for developing alternatives to oil such as natural gas and biofuels.
Additionally, Obama called for making our transportation system more energy efficient through new fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, vans and buses; supporting electric and natural gas vehicles; and investing in high speed rail and mass transit. Obama said that all Americans, whether urban, suburban or rural should have “the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas.”
Regarding efficiency, the president reiterated his calls to Congress for a clean energy standard requiring 80 percent of electricity to come from renewable fuels, clean coal, natural gas and nuclear power by 2035 and restated his commitment to improving the energy efficiency of homes and buildings
Finally, the president said the federal government should support clean energy innovations and research and development in new technologies, saying “our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard. And we boast one critical, renewable resource the rest of the world cannot match: American ingenuity.”
Supporting the President’s call to establish a secure, long-term energy policy, NLC urges the federal government to develop and implement a sustainable energy policy that is reliable, equitable and environmentally responsible. NLC also supports measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings (particularly through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program), policies to promote the development of alternative and renewable fuels, including strengthening fuel economy standards, and use of alternative and renewable energy sources.
Current NLC policy supports the domestic production of natural gas in an environmentally responsible manner, however the NLC Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (EENR) Committee has chosen to further study the issue as part of its workplan for the year, including focusing on the potential impact that hydraulic fracturing has on drinking water resources. Additionally, the EENR committee this year will study electric vehicle infrastructure and implementation relating to electricity production, smart grid technology and renewable resources.