Kai Ryssdal: President Obama rolled current events into the coming summer driving season and decided today was a good day to talk energy policy. The fighting in Libya has oil over $104 a barrel. Refiners are going to start changing over to their summertime gasoline formulas soon, so there’s a better than even chance pump prices will rise from where they are today.
That all helps explain why the President found himself at Georgetown University giving a speech this morning, which included — as all presidential energy speeches do — a reference to cutting our dependence on foreign oil.
Whether we can finally do it? Here’s Sarah Gardner from the Sustainability Desk.
Sarah Gardner: This kind of speech has become a White House tradition. President Nixon called for total energy independence back in 1973. President Obama’s goal is less ambitious, although perhaps more realistic.
Barack Obama: The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security, on a resource that will eventually run out.
Obama’s plan calls for stricter fuel efficiency standards and more electric vehicles, along with a big expansion of energy production here at home. But Obama stressed the limits of America’s domestic oil reserves and focused more on boosting production of homemade biofuels and natural gas.
But energy expert Amy Myers Jaffe at Rice University says neither will be fueling America’s 250 million cars in the next decade.
Amy Myers Jaffe: So there’d have to be ethanol stations, there’d have to be CNG natural gas filling terminals, right? And we don’t have any of that infrastructure.
Jaffe and others say that’s where Obama has to back up his call for more hybrid and electric vehicles with higher fuel efficiency standards overall. Marc Cooper is with the Consumer Federation of America.
Marc Cooper: This is a moment where they actually have the chance to finally deliver on that promise on changing the trajectory of U.S. gasoline consumption.
Cooper says a new standard of 60 miles per gallon by 2025 would get us there. Obama said today cars getting 50 miles to the gallon are already rolling off U.S. production lines. This fall, the White House will announce the next round of fuel standards for cars. We’ll see how high they go.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
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