Obama vows to cut oil imports by one third

Updated: 2011-03-31 09:37


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for the country to reduce its oil imports by one third by 2025 to secure its energy supply in the future.

"Today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary," Obama said during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. "When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third."

Citing fossil energy, Obama said that "the United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity and security on a resource that will eventually run out."

"The only way for America's energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We're going to have to find ways to boost our efficiency so we use less oil. We' ve got to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy that also produce less carbon pollution," he said.

Obama said that meeting this new goal of cutting US oil dependence depends largely on two things: finding and producing more oil at home, and reducing our dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.

"There are no quick fixes," Obama said. "And 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."

On the supply side, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003. And for the first time in more than a decade, oil that the US imported accounted for less than half the liquid fuel it consumed.

The Obama Administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production.

"To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production -- as long as it's safe and responsible," Obama said.

The government has approved 39 new shallow-water permits, seven deepwater permits and  more than two offshore drilling permits to drill.

Obama stressed that the US consume about 25 percent of the world's oil. However, it only has 2 percent of the reserves.

Even if the country doubled its oil production, it still cannot meet the long-term energy challenge.

Obama noted that the US will continue to develop nuclear energy, which accounts for about 20 percent of the country's electricity. He said that although the nuclear disaster happened in Japan in recent days, it should not stop the US to use this clean energy. He requested a comprehensive safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make sure that all of the country' s existing nuclear energy facilities are safe.

He also noted that other substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels -- not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and biomass.

On the demand side, Obama pledged to increase energy efficiency and push the use of cleaner energy to direct energy consumption.

"We're going to continue to work with the automakers, with the autoworkers, with states, to ensure the high-quality, fuel- efficient cars and trucks of tomorrow are built right here in the United States of America," Obama said. "That's going to be a top priority for us."

He calls for administrative action directing agencies to ensure that by 2015, all new vehicles they purchase will be alternative- fuel vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

Obama also cited international competition as a factor for his energy security strategy.

"The countries that lead the 21st century clean energy economy will be the countries that lead the 21st century global economy," Obama said. "I want America to be that nation. I want America to win the future."

But Obama's energy plan is criticized by Republicans.

Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said Obama's policies did not match his rhetoric and said restrictions on offshore oil drilling in the Gulf following a massive oil spill disaster last year had led to higher prices.

"As we've frequently seen with this administration, what it says and what it does are often two very different things," he said accusing America of conducting a "war on American energy."


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