In a telephone news conference, the White House officials indicated that the trust would fund research at government laboratories, universities and private companies, similar to the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy.
Margot Anderson, executive director of the energy project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington research group, said others had suggested similar initiatives to redirect revenue from energy development on public lands to new research, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Anderson said they had inevitably become ensnared in discussions about opening more land to drilling or giving less revenue to the federal budget, politically unappealing alternatives in Washington.
Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said the proposal in its current form was unacceptable. “For this proposal to even be plausible, oil and gas leasing on federal land would need to increase dramatically. Unfortunately, this administration has consistently slowed, delayed, and blocked American energy production.”
Obama spoke after taking a tour officials said he requested of Argonne, the Department of Energy's lead battery research laboratory.
For decades, the lab has worked to develop technology to power plug-in electric cars, such as the Chevy Volt.
In November, the U.S. Department of Energy chose Argonne to lead a $120 million joint collaboration to develop lighter, cheaper batteries for everything from smart phones to electric vehicles that store more power and charge faster.
John Krummel, division director of the lab's Environmental Science Division, welcomed the President's energy trust funding proposal, especially given the current political environment.
"That would help stabilize long term projects," Krummel said. "Things that are highly innovative, high risk, high reward, and if we know the funding's there people can take a little more risk without worrying about what's coming next year."