(Updated with President Obama comments on energy policy, foreign oil)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- President Obama announced on Wednesday initiatives to cut U.S. reliance on foreign oil, calling for the U.S. to reduce oil imports by one-third within a decade -- half from increasing U.S. production and half from reducing oil consumption.
President Obama's plan includes support for natural gas vehicles, a pledge by the federal government to purchase only alternative fuel vehicles by 2015, and expanded oil and gas drilling in the U.S. Biofuel and ethanol production increases are also part of the White House plan for reducing reliance on foreign oil.
President Obama quantifed his goal for less reliance on foreign oil, stating, "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."President Obama, who spoke at Georgetown University on the energy proposals on Wednesday, is unveiling his latest support for a new energy paradigm as consumers become more anxious about the sustained higher gasoline prices at the pump and the Middle East political unrest continues to sustain higher crude oil prices. The Japanese nuclear crisis has already combined with the Middle East unrest to heighten the profile of energy policy. "One big area of concern has been the cost and security of our energy.... The situation in Japan leads us to ask questions about our energy sources, and in an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump effect everybody," Obama said early in his speech at Georgetown University. On $4 gasoline, President Obama said, "We have been down this road before ... politicians waving their plans for $2 gas. You remember 'drill, baby drill,' ... none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.... The truth is that none of these gimmicks or slogans made a bit of difference. When gas prices finally did fall it was mostly because global recession had led to less demand for oil." The White House plan was a mix of ideas that Obama has previously voiced support for and some new ideas. President Obama reiterated the ambition of requiring 80% of electricity to be generated from "clean" energy sources -- nuclear, natural gas, clean coal, wind and solar among them -- by 2035. "We will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we finally get serious about long-term energy policy," President Obama said. Nevertheless, there remains a gap between the White House pledge and the legislative reality, with comprehensive energy policy being the legislative holy grail that has so far eluded the Obama administration.