Processing Magazine

Obama pledges to cut red tape in oil and gas drilling approvals

February 15, 2013

In his annual State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to speed up the approval of new oil and gas drilling permits and proposed that the country use some of its oil and gas proceeds to finance alternative fuels research.

The president said his administration will continue cutting administrative hurdles to accelerate permits to oil and gas producers to boost production and raise more revenue for the government in royalties, bonus bids and lease sales. Some of the revenues from expanded drilling on federal land could fund an "energy security trust" that would aid research into alternative fuels, Obama proposed.

The energy security trust would function for 10 years, spending an aggregate of $2 billion. It would redirect some $200 million in royalties for drilling on public land to pay for the development of clean energy research, Bloomberg reported, citing the White House.

That could help free U.S. families and businesses from the painful surges in gas prices they have endured far too long, Obama said.

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The president also urged Congress to pass a cap-and-trade bill on greenhouse gas emissions as part of efforts to find a market-based solution to climate change.

Obama warned that if Congress fails to act soon to protect future generations, he would use his executive powers to impose pollution controls to speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

The Environmental Protection Agency is required under the Clean Air Act to propose carbon emission standards for existing power generation plants. The agency is currently in the final stage of preparing greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for new and modified power facilities. Such rules would have a major impact on coal-fueled plants which are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. Renewable power, such as solar and wind, as well as natural gas-fired and nuclear power facilities would likely benefit from the GHG rules.

After the first manufacturing innovation institute opened its doors in Youngstown, Ohio, last year, Obama pledged to open three more advanced-technology manufacturing centers, where companies and the departments of Defense and Energy would join forces to support the creation of high-tech jobs.

The president also set a new goal for America: reducing by half the energy wasted by households and businesses over the next 20 years. To make this happen, he suggested a competition among states to fund energy efficiency schemes. States that come up with the best ideas to open jobs and cut their energy bills by building more energy efficiency buildings will receive federal support to turn these ideas into reality, Obama said.