Obama urges $2B trust for alternative-fuel research proposal

2013-03-16T00:00:00Z Obama urges $2B trust for alternative-fuel research proposalCynthia Dizikes and Neela Banerjee Tribune Washington Bureau Arizona Daily Star

CHICAGO - President Obama returned to Chicago Friday to push an energy policy aimed at weaning the country off of oil by using revenues from increased oil and gas production.

In a speech at Argonne National Laboratory, Obama said research into batteries, natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear power is vital to America having a long-term healthy economy and environment.

Obama also introduced a proposal to establish a $2 billion trust from royalties the government receives from offshore drilling. Over 10 years, that money would be used to support energy research into alternatives to gasoline, he said.

Administration officials have said they expect revenue to support clean fuels research to flow from greater oil and gas drilling, part of Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, but which critics assert amounts to conflicting goals.

"Few areas hold more promise for creating more jobs ... than how we use American energy," Obama said.

In pitching the "Energy Security Trust," Obama called it a consumer issue, too. "The only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices ... for good, is to shift our cars entirely, our cars and trucks, off oil," Obama said.

The role of the trust, which will be in the president's budget proposal, would be to support cutting-edge research into fuels to eventually replace gasoline, a prospect that the officials conceded was years away.

Revenue channeled to the trust would be on top of revenue already expected from federal lands, and would not siphon money from other government coffers, they said.

White House officials said the idea for the trust came from a group of corporate chief executives and former military officers.

In a telephone news conference, the White House officials indicated that the trust would fund research at government laboratories, universities and private companies, similar to the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy.

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