President Obama has laudably proposed putting $2 billion from federal oil and gas revenues over the next 10 years into a new Energy Security Trust to fund research on new technologies like better batteries and hydrogen fuel cells that would help get cars and trucks “off oil for good.”
The proposed alternative-fuel research fund is fundamentally an excellent idea and builds on the Obama Administration’s accomplishments in making U.S. automakers more globally competitive by raising U.S. fuel economy standards. Yet the Energy Security Trust faces formidable opposition from the fossil fuel industry’s supporters in Congress.
The President will have to rethink using the Trust to fund research into natural gas vehicles if he wants the full support of environmentalists like Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, who oppose the shift toward more natural-gas vehicles because of their high life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. A study last year concluded that over a 20- year span, natural gas vehicles “were worse for the climate than gasoline or diesel vehicles unless current leak rates [during natural gas production] are reduced.”