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Obama Seeks to Use Oil and Gas Money to Develop Alternative Fuel Cars

President Obama with Steve Ciatti, a combustion engineer, at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois on Friday. Mr. Obama said his plan was “just a smart idea.”
By JOHN M. BRODER
Published: March 15, 2013

¶ ARGONNE, Ill. — Warning that the United States risks falling behind in the international race to develop alternative energy, President Obama on Friday proposed diverting $2 billion in revenue from federal oil and gas royalties over the next decade to pay for research on advanced vehicles.

¶ Mr. Obama toured a vehicle research facility at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and then spoke to employees about his plan, first proposed in his State of the Union address last month, to use oil and gas money to find ways to replace hydrocarbons as the primary fuel for cars, trucks and buses.

¶ The president said the nation was experiencing one of its regular spikes in gasoline prices, in effect a tax on every American household.

¶ “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,” the president said. “It’s not just about saving money. It’s also about saving the environment. But it’s also about our national security.”

¶ “It’s not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea,” he added. “It’s just a smart idea.”

¶ Perched on a platform behind Mr. Obama as he spoke were three alternative fuel vehicles now for sale in the United States: a Chevrolet Volt and a Ford C-Max Energi, both plug-in electric hybrids, and a Honda Civic outfitted to run on natural gas.

¶ He spoke inside a building housing a giant X-ray chamber known as the Advanced Photon Source, described by Argonne officials as the brightest source of X-rays in the Western Hemisphere. The facility allows scientists to explore materials on a nanoscale and to study ways to improve engine combustion.
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