A crowd of approximately 1,000—mostly students—packed into McDonough Gymnasium this morning to hear President Barack Obama as he laid out a plan to reduce oil imports by one-third in a decade.
“Here’s the bottom line—there are no quick fixes, ” Obama said. “And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy.”
Criticizing “the same political gridlock and inertia that’s held us back for decades,” Obama explained that the country must find and produce more oil domestically, while simultaneously reduce oil dependence by investing in clean, alternative fuel sources. With those measures in mind, Obama announced that he plans to encourage offshore oil drilling—including seven deep-water drilling permits granted in recent weeks.
“I don’t think anyone’s forgotten that we’re not even a year removed from the largest oil spill in our history,” he said. “What we learned from that disaster helped us put in place smarter standards of safety and responsibility.”
In his speech, Obama also cited a growing role for alternative energy sources, such as natural gas, renewable biofuels, and clean forms of electricity. By 2015, he said, all federal agencies will purchase only alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles.
“[Nuclear energy] has important potential for increasing our electricity without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. But I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe.”
Obama emphasized American exceptionalism throughout the speech.
“Other countries are exporting technology we pioneered and chasing the jobs that come with it because they know that the countries that lead the 21st century clean energy economy will be the countries that lead the 21st century global economy,” he said. “I want America to be that nation. I want America to win the future.”
“I don’t want to leave this challenge for future presidents. I don’t want to leave it for my children,” Obama said, stressing the urgency of the matter. “Solving it will take time and effort. It will require our brightest scientists, our most creative companies, and, most importantly, all of us—Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between—to do our part. But with confidence—in America, in ourselves, and in one another—I know it is a challenge we will solve.”
The President’s speech was peppered with a number of jokes, starting with how Georgetown’s loss hurt his bracket and also mentioning that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu “deserved his Nobel Prize.”
Chris Heller and Ethan Chess contributed to this report. Photos: Max Blodgett.