President Barack Obama, suddenly a huge booster of domestic natural gas, unveiled some new initiatives in Las Vegas on Thursday. Here are excerpts from his prepared remarks. He deviated somewhat from them, even quoting the oft-heard phrase that the United States is now “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.”
Part of my blueprint for an economy built to last is American energy. And that’s why we’re here today.
For decades, America has been talking about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. Well, my Administration has actually done something about it.
Over the last three years, we negotiated the toughest new efficiency standards for cars and trucks in history. And we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration. Right now, American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years. Eight years. Last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. And today, I’m announcing that my administration will soon open up around 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for exploration and development, which could result in a lot more production of domestic energy.
Here’s the thing, though. Even with all this oil production, we only have 2 percent of the world’s reserves. So we need an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
A good place to start is with natural gas. We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly a hundred years. Developing it could power our cars, our homes, and our factories in a cleaner and cheaper way. And experts believe it could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.
Now, I know some families are worried about the impact this could have on our environment and on the health of our communities. I share that concern. That’s why I’m requiring – for the first time ever – that all companies drilling for gas on public lands disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.
But we’ve got to keep at it. Think about what could happen if we do. Think about an America where more cars and trucks are running on domestic natural gas than on foreign oil. Think about an America where our companies are leading the world in developing natural gas technology and creating a generation of new energy jobs; where our natural gas resources are helping make our manufacturers more competitive for decades. We can do this.
Last April, we issued a challenge to shipping companies like this one. We said that if you upgrade your fleets to run on less oil or no oil at all, we’d help you succeed. We started out with five companies that accepted the challenge, and UPS was one of the first. Less than a year later, we’ve got fourteen companies on board, and together, they represent one million vehicles on the road.
But we should do more. And that’s why we’re here today.
First, let’s get more of these natural gas vehicles on the road. The federal fleet of cars is leading by example. We’ve got to help local governments upgrade their fleets, too. If more of these brown trucks are going green, more city buses should too.
Second, let’s offer new tax incentives to help companies buy more clean trucks like these.
Third, let’s make sure all these new trucks that are running on natural gas have places to refuel. We’re going to keep working with the private sector to develop up to five natural gas corridors along our highways. These are highways that have natural gas fueling stations between cities – just like the one the folks at UPS, South Coast Air, and Clean Energy Fuels are opening today between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
Finally, to keep America on the cutting edge of clean energy technology, I want my Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, to launch a new competition that encourages our country’s brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to discover new breakthroughs for natural gas vehicles.