President Obama Presents Energy Plan, Calls for Cut in Imports of Foreign Oil

BY News Desk  March 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM EDT

In a speech Wednesday at Georgetown University, President Obama outlined his goals for reducing American energy dependence, heavily emphasizing new technology and alternative sources in addition to “safe and responsible” offshore drilling. He was quick to add that the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had not been forgotten, and that “today we’re working to expedite new drilling permits for companies that meet these higher standards.”

The president pointed to rising prices at the pump, which have yet again drawn attention to an issue that was a focus of the 2008 presidential campaigns. “When gas prices finally did fall, it was because the global recession had led to less demand for oil,” he said, and that now higher fuel prices are again correlating with a recovering economy.

“The ups and downs in gas prices historically have tended to be temporary but when you look at the long-term trends there are going to be more ups in gas prices than downs in gas prices,” he said, citing steadily rising demand from growing economies like China and India.

“We’ve known about the dangers of our oil dependence for decades. Richard Nixon talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. And every president since then has talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil,” he said.

The president said the goals was to reduce oil imports by a third over the next decade, by reducing demand and finding new sources of energy.

On the former, the president pointed to “historic investments in high-speed rail” to replace gasoline-dependent forms of transportation. He also lauded research and development in biofuels, natural gas sources, and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“None of this would have happened without government support,” he said, referring to the costs of investing in new technologies at a time when the federal budget is strained. He indicated that “at moments like these, sacrificing these investments in research and development in clean energy technologies” would be short-sighted economically.