Obama calls for deep cuts in US oil imports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama yesterday proposed to cut US oil imports by a third over 10 years, a goal that eluded his predecessors and seen as extremely ambitious by analysts sceptical it can succeed.

Obama outlined his strategy after spending days explaining the US-led military action in Libya, where fighting, accompanied by unrest elsewhere in the Arab world, has helped push US gasoline prices toward $4 a gallon.

In a speech that was short on details on how to curb US energy demand, Obama did not pretend there were speedy measures to curb mounting fuel costs, which could threaten the country’s economic recovery by weighing on American spending and confidence.

“There are no quick fixes … We will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we finally get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy,” Obama said.

As he rolled out a blueprint on energy security, Obama said the country must curb dependence on foreign oil that makes up roughly half of its daily fuel needs.

Previous presidents have made similar promises on energy imports that they failed to meet. And any new policy initiative can expect tough opposition from Republicans, who see high energy prices hurting Obama and his Democrats in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Republicans have mocked the idea of Obama curbing oil imports a week after visiting Brazil, where he said the United states wanted to be a good customer for its oil exports.

Obama laid out four areas to help reach his target of curbing US dependence on foreign oil: lifting domestic energy production, fostering the use of more natural gas in vehicles like city buses, making cars and trucks more efficient, and boosting alternative energy by encouraging bio-fuels.

The United States consumed almost 20 million barrels of oil a day in 2010 of which roughly half was imported.

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