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Obama Sets Goal to Cut One-Third of Oil Imports

March 30, 2011 President Barack Obama announced a goal of cutting a third of oil imports by 2020 in a speech at Georgetown on energy security March 30.

“Today, I want to announce a new goal – one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that was necessary,” Obama told an audience of more than 1,000 students, faculty and distinguished guests.

“When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.”

Reducing Dependence

He said meeting the new goal depends on producing more oil domestically as well as replacing oil dependence with “cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.”

“The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-time security, on a resource that will eventually run out,” he said. “Not anymore.”

He also said that despite the tragedy in Japan, nuclear power could not be taken “off the table” and that he has requested a safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ensure existing nuclear facilities are safe.

“We’ll incorporate those conclusions and lessons from Japan in designing and building the next generation of plants,” Obama said.

Winning the Future

He said other countries are exporting the technology America pioneered “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.” 

“I want America to be that nation,” the president said to applause. “I want America to win the future.

He also talked about renewable biofuels such as ethanol, switch grass, wood chips and biomass.

Speed of Sound

“If anyone doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil,” he said. “…Half of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels … Just last week our Air Force used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound.”

“Think about that,” he said to the mostly student audience. “If an F-22 raptor can fly faster than the speed of sound, the old beater that you’re driving around can probably do so too.”

Touch the Moon

Obama appealed to Georgetown students to pave the way for appropriate energy policy.

“We need you to dream big,” he said.  “We need you to summon that same spirit of unbridled optimism, and that bold willingness to tackle tough challenges and see those challenges through that led previous generations to rise to greatness – to save the democracy, to touch the moon, to connect the world with our own science and our own imagination.”

Future of America

“To be encouraging such a drastic change over the next decade is incredible,” said Clare Carluccio (C’13). “This is the future of America.”

Georgetown Public Policy Dean Edward Montgomery, who served on Obama’s Auto Task Force and as executive director of White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers, also attended the speech.

Comprehensive Agenda

“The president has reminded us that this is a long-term problem that has been coming, and it is a result of inaction,” Montgomery said. “We need to put together a comprehensive agenda to address it.”

He said the challenge Obama gave to the students “to be engaged in crafting our future is a powerful note to end on.”

Third Visit

This was Obama’s third visit to Georgetown. He spoke at the university while still a senator from Illinois in September 2006 on energy independence and returned as president in April 2009 to talk about economic policy.