LEMONT, Ill. —
The initiative, proposing to spend $200 million a year on research, would be paid for with revenue from federal oil and gas leases on offshore drilling and would not add to the deficit.
The money would fund research on “breakthrough” technologies such as batteries for electric cars and biofuels made from switch grass or other materials. Researchers also would look to improve use of natural gas as a fuel for cars and trucks.
Obama’s motorcade passed a couple dozen protesters standing in the rain at the Argonne entrance, protesting against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The Obama administration is considering whether to clear the project. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force one that “there’s no question” that the types of green energy initiatives the president was talking about at Argonne would have more impact on climate change than whether Keystone is built.
“Thousands of miles of pipelines have been built since President Obama took office inside the United States of America and it hasn’t had a measurable impact on climate change” Earnest said. “But what has had an impact, measurable impact, on climate change has been, for example, the car rule that the president has put in place that has greatly increased fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.”
Inside the national lab, Obama got a firsthand look at some of the cutting-edge vehicle research, including a room that can go to extreme temperatures to test the impact on fuel efficiency. He talked to engineers working on electric car batteries and on an engine that runs on diesel and gasoline to reduce fuel costs.
“We want to keep on funding them,” the president said as he looked at the engine, developed with public and private funding from Chrysler. “That’s what I’m trying to tell Congress.”