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Obama Progress Report Shows Success In Clean Energy Development and Foreign Oil Reduction

This month the Obama administration published a report highlighting its accomplishments over the last year in developing domestic clean energy and reducing foreign oil reliance. 

Image courtesy of environmentallysustainable.info.

In its “all-of-the-above” policy approach to reducing reliance on foreign energy, the Obama administration’s one-year progress report runs the gamut from advances in renewable energy projects, increasing domestic oil and natural gas production, and cutting imports on foreign oil.

In renewable energy, the administration said that the first solar project on public land will be a 50 megawatt facility in Nevada that is anticipated to be fully operational and delivering power to the grid by May 2012.

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has approved 29 onshore renewable energy projects, including: 16 solar projects, five wind farms, and eight geothermal facilities.

In 2010, the DOI also issued a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee to support the financing of a new nuclear power plant in Burke, Ga. – the first new nuclear power plant in over three decades.

The Georgia nuclear power plant received regulatory approval last month, and will bring online two Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors. “When built, the plant will provide clean electricity to nearly 1.4 million people,” said the administration’s report.

The administration also said that, “To support the continued manufacture, development, and deployment of clean energy technologies, the president’s FY (Fiscal Year) 2013 Budget includes $5 billion in tax credits” that are expected to stimulate investments in those clean energy technologies.

The administration is also boasting of strides in increasing domestic oil production, and decreasing imports. Overall, net oil imports have declined from 57 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2011 – the lowest levels since 1995, said the administration.

 In 2011, U.S. domestic crude oil production increased by an estimated 120,000 barrels per day over 2010 levels to 5.6 million barrels per day in 2011, said the administration’s report.

“In addition, U.S. natural gas production grew by more than seven percent in 2011 – the largest year-over-year volumetric increase in history,” continued the report.

As part of this initiative, in November 2011, the DOI announced the proposed 2012-2017 Outer Continental Self Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The proposed program has scheduled 15 potential lease sales, which are: 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and three off the coast of Alaska. Over the coming months, the DOI said it will be working to finalize the program.

On Dec. 14, 2011, the DOI held its first oil and natural gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon explosion . The sale attracted nearly $338 million in total bids – about $100 million more than the average for Western Gulf sales over the previous decade.

Moving ahead, the DOI is also planning to hold the consolidated Central Gulf of Mexico Sale 216/222 in New Orleans on June 20, 2012. The sale will include all available unleased areas – nearly 38 million acres – in the central planning area offshore of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

On the international front, the U.S. signed a deal with Mexico allowing for the “exploration and development of transboundary oil and natural gas reservoirs along the United States’ and Mexico’s maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico,” said the administration’s report.

In Alaska, the administration said that it’s taking “a balanced and careful approach to energy exploration and development in the Arctic,” and will take into account “a range of factors including resource potential; environmental needs; and the social, cultural, and subsistence needs of Alaska Native communities.”

The promises though will have very little impact on the rate of sales for oil exploration in the state. The Proposed 2012-2017 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program has scheduled “a potential special interest sale in the Cook Inlet in 2013, if industry demonstrates interest,” said the administration report.

There may also be potential sales in the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas off the coast of Alaska. The administration also said that it will continue holding annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska.


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