The Clean Energy Security Trust

From Energy.Gov
From Energy.Gov

Last week, president Barack Obama put forth a proposal to create the Clean Energy Security Trust, to research renewable and domestically-produced energy sources.

Per the president’s plan, $2 billion would be set side over 10 years that  “will support research into a range of cost-effective technologies – like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically produced natural gas. ”

“By investing in our energy security, we are helping our businesses succeed and we’re creating good middle class jobs right here in America,” Obama said March 15 as he presented the proposal in a speech at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. “The only way to really break this cycle of spiking oil prices — the only way to break that cycle for for good — is to shift our cars entirely…off oil.”

The plan has been lauded by lobbying group Securing America’s Future Energy, who, in December, said: “This fund must be laser-focused on the oil displacement technologies that will create true competition in the transportation sector.”

That’s well and good. We should be investing more in renewables. But I fear too much emphasis is being put on becoming less reliant on gasoline rather than on extractive technologies altogether, especially natural gas whose danger has been well-documented. How about instead of investing so much in figuring out how to fuel cars, there’s a stronger investment in bicycling, pedestrian and public transit infrastructure too?

We’ll be coming back to this in the days to come. But here’s some preliminary reaction from the environmental community, starting with Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club:

“While we applaud the President for proposing new investments in clean transportation innovations such as advanced battery technology for electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and alternative fuels, we urge him to focus on these clean technologies rather than fossil fuel options like natural gas vehicles. If the President is truly serious about moving beyond fossil fuels and fighting the climate crisis, natural gas is not the answer.  

The Sierra Club strongly opposes opening up new land to destructive drilling and fracking, as has been proposed in Illinois. The President should instead go all in on electric vehicles and clean energy sources like wind and solar, while boosting common sense climate solutions like energy efficiency.

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