A major push from Obama on energy.
From DOE: “Liquid fuels demand can be sufficiently reduced so that
biomass can meet all liquid fuel needs.”
What’s up? What is an Energy Security Trust, anyway? The Digest’s
10-Minute Guide tells all.
In an address at the Argonne National Laboratories on Friday,
President Obama said:
“You see, after years of talking about it, we’re
finally poised to take control of our energy future. We
produce more oil than we have in 15 years. We import less
oil than we have in 20 years…But the only way we’re going to break
this cycle of spiking gas prices for good is to shift our cars and
trucks off of oil for good. That’s why, in my State of the
Union Address, I called on Congress to set up an Energy Security
Trust to fund research into new technologies that will help us reach that goal.
“I’m proposing that we take some of our oil and gas revenues from
public lands and put it towards research that will benefit the
public, so that we can support American ingenuity without adding a
dime to our deficit…devising new ways to fuel our cars and trucks
with new sources of clean energy – like advanced biofuels and
natural gas – so drivers can one day go coast-to-coast without
using a drop of oil.
“And in the meantime, let’s keep moving forward on an
all-of-the-above energy strategy. A strategy where we
produce more oil and gas here at home, but also more biofuels and
fuel-efficient vehicles; more solar power and wind power. We can
A companion study released the the Department of Energy was, in its
way, more ambitious and more specific: “TEF does not project that
all liquid fuels will be eliminated from the future transportation
sector, but rather that demand can be sufficiently reduced so that
biomass can meet all liquid fuel needs.”
The Energy Security Trust. Is it a new idea?
No. In his 2013
State of the Union
address, President Obama called on Congress
to create an Energy Security Trust Fund, which would free American
families and business from painful spikes in gas prices. The
President’s plan builds on an idea that has bipartisan support from
experts including retired admirals and generals and leading CEOs,
and it focuses on one goal: shifting America’s cars and trucks off
How does it work?
Over 10 years, the Energy Security Trust will provide $2 billion for
critical, cutting-edge research focused on developing cost-effective
transportation alternatives. The investments will support research
into a range of technologies – things like advanced vehicles that
run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, and domestically produced
natural gas. It will also help fund a small number of real-world
experiments that try different transportation techniques in cities
and towns around the country using advanced vehicles at scale.
Does it involve new taxes?
No. The funding will be provided by revenues from federal oil and
gas development, and will not add any additional costs to the
President Obama’s complete remarks are where?
Does the White House’s have a short take on the Energy Security
What is the Transport Energy Futures (TEF) study?
It’s a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory that
finds the United States has the potential to reduce petroleum use
and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector by
more than 80% by 2050 – and proposes pathways towards that goal.
What is the strategy?
• Stopping Growth in Transportation Sector Energy Use
• Using More Biofuels
• Expanding Electric and Hydrogen Technologies
What’s the overall 15-point Obama Energy Strategy, again?
1. Challenges Americans to double renewable electricity generation
again by 2020.
2. Directs the Interior Department to make energy project permitting
3. Commits to safer production and cleaner electricity from natural
4. Supports a responsible nuclear waste strategy.
5. Sets a goal to cut net oil imports in half by the end of the
6. Commits to partnering with the private sector to adopt natural
gas and other alternative fuels in the Nation’s trucking fleet.
7. Establishes a new goal to double American energy productivity by
8. Challenges States to Cut Energy Waste and Support Energy
Efficiency and Modernize the Grid.
9. Commits to build on the success of existing partnerships with the
public and private sector to use energy wisely.
10. Calls for sustained investments in technologies that promote
maximum productivity of energy use and reduce waste.
11. Leads efforts through the Clean Energy Ministerial and other
fora to promote energy efficiency and the development and deployment
of clean energy.
12. Works through the G20 and other fora toward the global phase out
of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
13. Promotes safe and responsible oil and natural gas development.
14. Updates our international capabilities to strengthen energy
15. Supports American nuclear exports.
Where’s the Fact Sheet on that?
Why the transport sector, specifically?
The transportation sector accounts for 71% of total U.S. petroleum
consumption and 33% of U.S. total carbon emissions.
What are the 9 Interconnected reports that make up the overall
1. Deployment pathways issues including the development of,
transition to, and challenges of advanced technology
2. Non-cost barriers to advanced vehicles such as range anxiety,
refueling availability, technology reliability, and consumer
3. Opportunities to improve non-light-duty vehicle efficiency for
medium- and heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles and equipment,
aircraft, marine vessels, and railways
4. Opportunities for switching modes of transporting freight, such
as moving freight from trucks to rail and ships.
5. Infrastructure expansion required for deployment of low-GHG
fuels, including electricity, biofuels, hydrogen, and natural gas
6. Balance of biomass resource demand and supply, including
allocations for various transportation fuels, electric generation,
and other applications.
7. Opportunities to save energy and abate GHG emissions through
community development and built environment strategies
8. Trip reduction through mass transit, tele-working, tele-shopping,
carpooling, and improvement of vehicle performance through efficient
9. Freight demand patterns, including trends in operational needs
and projections of future use levels.
How much biofuels use does the TEF study anticipate?
Up to 100
percent of fuel needs
, if the US hits its 2050 fuel
efficiency, hydrogen fuel, and electrification goals as well. Even
at the EIA baseline projected fuel demand in 2050, biofuels could
supply as much as 50 percent of the jet fuel market, and 30 percent
of the gasoline and diesel markets if EERE biofuel technology goals
are met. Getting to the point where biomass could provide 100
percent of vehicle liquid fuels requires reducing the need for fuel
through the efficiency and demand management measures described
above, including deployment of electricity or hydrogen fuel
Will this require an avalanche of infrastructure?
Some. “While new fuel types require new infrastructure, the share of
infrastructure cost within total fuel costs is very small (1.5-3
percent), and these costs can be made up for in fuel cost savings of
more efficient advanced vehicles.”
Where can I start to dig deeper into the overall plan and the
You can start
here at the TEF home page
Who was responsible for TEF?
TEF is a collaboration between EERE, the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). The
project benefitted from the input provided by a steering committee
that included some of the nation’s foremost experts on
transportation energy from the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), academic
researchers, and industry associations.
What is NEPA and what is happening there?
NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, a product of
the Nixon Administration.
Er, Nixon? What’s new there?
The President’s strategy includes requiring federal agencies, under
NEPA’s authority, to include climate change impact in reviewing
proposed projects. For example — leases to drill for coal, or export
coal to China, or construct oil pipelines like the Keystone XL
pipeline, could be reviewed not only for air pollution and water
fouling, but for overall greenhouse gas impact.
Are the changes in NEPA reviews ho-hum, or a big deal?
Big deal. Brendan Cummings, senior counsel for the Center for
Biological Diversity told Bloomberg that the result will be “a major
shakeup in how agencies conduct NEPA” reviews.
Does the President have this authority under NEPA?
Generally, yes. NEPA grants a right of Federal review of proposed
projects for environmental impact — and climate change certainly
falls broadly within that category. The devil is going to be in the
details — after all, how much specific contribution to a problem
like climate change be attributed to a single project?
Is a NEPA review capable of derailing a project?
No. A NEPA review is, at the end of the day, aimed at producing a
thorough vetting process, rather than a specific outcome. Projects
go through NEPA reviews — there is a robust commentary opportunity —
but regulators, in the end, make decisions on permits. NEPA does
establish a forum for introducing or reviewing data that will be
used in a regulator’s decision — or, in lawsuits that may be filed
to reverse a ruling.
Overall, is there going to be opposition from the right on the
Energy Security Trust?
Forbes’ Houston-based energy columnist Christopher Helman writes: “This
is a terrible idea
— and a backdoor to the imposition of a
nationwide carbon tax — that congress should not allow to pass.
“There is absolutely no reason why we need a dedicated Energy
Security Trust to fund the national labs, or to fund any kind of
alternative energy research. If congress wants to fund research it
can pass a bill to fund research…Isn’t congressional appropriation
how the federal government is supposed to pay for such stuff?
“Then consider that the Department of Energy has in recent years
built up an insanely terrible record of wasting taxpayer money by
directing funds to private companies, many of which have simply gone
belly up (but not before paying lavish bonuses to executives).
Why is there opposition from the left?
“This approach will only encourage more dirty
energy production…[and] doesn’t create any additional cost for using
fossil fuels, thus creating no incentive for firms to divert
resources into safer, cleaner and more renewable sources of energy,”
Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, told
Jim Lane is editor and
publisher of Biofuels Digest and BioInvest Digest
article was originally published. Biofuels Digest is the most widely read Biofuels daily
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