President Barack Obama last week endorsed a plan to fund research for alternative fuel vehicles, echoing at least some of the sentiment expressed by local and national energy industry leaders.
Obama on March 15 proposed using $2 billion in federal oil and natural gas royalties over the next decade to pay for research on vehicles that run on electricity, natural gas and other alternative fuels.
“The only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices, the only way to break that cycle for good, is to shift our cars entirely — our cars and trucks — off oil,” Obama said.
Obama gave his speech in front of a natural gas-powered Honda Civic and plug-in electric hybrids Chevrolet Volt and a Ford C-Max Energi.
While there likely will be debate about how the research should be funded, the president's call for increased efforts to develop alternative fuels is an idea that local energy leaders have encouraged.
With nearly all of the country's electrical supply generated with domestic fuels, transportation fuels are seen as the biggest challenge to reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.
Transportation fuel represents about 70 percent of the country's petroleum usage, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
In 2012, about 14 million barrels of oil per day was transformed into transportation fuels, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
Gov. Mary Fallin has helped lead an effort to encourage automakers to produce natural gas-powered cars and trucks for state fleets. The state earlier this month received its first batch of 242 new compressed natural gas-fueled 2013 Ram 2500 trucks.
The effort is now backed by 21 other states.
Native Oklahoman and oilman T. Boone Pickens has helped lead an effort to encourage the country's trucking fleets to convert to natural gas.
Former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey this month told participants at the University of Oklahoma Energy Symposium that he would like to see the country follow the examples of Brazil and Israel, where vehicles are designed to run on multiple fuels.
“A driver in Brazil can use either gasoline or ethanol. Hopefully in the U.S., we will be able to drive on gasoline, ethanol or methanol made from natural gas,” Woolsey said. “It's going to be even more embarrassing if we fall behind the Communist Chinese with choice at the pump.”