President Obama has been strongly promoting his plan for an energy security trust fund in recent weeks. It has met quite a bit of opposition and many doubt its viability. In this plan $2 billion of oil and natural gas royalties would go towards advancing electric car batteries, biofuels, fuel cells and renewable energy development. The common debate over whether it is a worthwhile investment to put big money into alternative energy sources is alive and well.
There is a consistent fundamental divergence when it comes to America’s energy future, with a large group that fervently supports large investment in renewable energy in hopes that added subsidies would increase production and lower costs and an opposition that maintains that government funds cannot bring alternative energy to life. Will financing alternative energy increase technological innovation?
The president’s plan is currently difficult to execute, because the administration is very unwilling to increase drilling in any way. The only concession made is to consider drilling on the outer continental shelf in the Arctic, and even this is met with skepticism. However, many experts have expressed that an increase in production is the only way to facilitate this plan. Former energy secretary Andy Karsner stated, “you’re not going to do it without expanding production.”
As with many other controversial issues, compromise seems further from reality. White House energy advisor Heather Zichal stated, “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is off the table. Our existing [outer continental shelf] plan and nothing else.” This boils down to the stigma surrounding oil production and the environmental impact. As it stands, there is an incredible potential for oil production in the very near future that will create large amounts of revenue and foster economic growth. Renewable energy will definitely have its day, however that day is further down the road. The Obama administration consistently has difficulty confronting this fact.
If the president can progress past oil drilling uncertainties, this trust fund could truly made a difference. Governors from North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina came together to advocate for oil drilling off their coasts as well. This is not a battle solely based on political party. Oil dependency and clean energy is a non-partisan concern. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski presented a similar plan in her energy proposal in early February. Her plan includes the same properties except it provides for offshore drilling. This can be a place of compromise in congress if enough individuals take initiative. America needs to take strong measures toward securing our future energy. This needs to come in the form of both expanding oil drilling as well as putting some of that revenue towards alternative energy production.