President Obama wants to know how many clean cars $2 billion can buy. In an announcement expected later today, the President is expected to ask Congress to use $2 billion that the government has raised from allowing oil and gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf to fund clean energy transportation. That means plug-in vehicles, better batteries, biofuels and compressed natural gas vehicles.
Obama will reportedly make the announcement at Argonne National Laboratory, a site already known for automotive innovation, including the development of an omnivorous engine and, with General Motors, improved batteries. The President previously mentioned taking oil and gas money and putting it into an "Energy Security Trust" fund in his State of the Union speech last month. The money would come from offshore oil drilling leases and would be spread out over 10 years. There would not be any expansion of offshore drilling (or a change in the administration's position on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) to raise the money. The end goal, as we've heard so many times before, is to "protect American families from spikes in gas prices and allow us to run our cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels," according to White House documents.
Of course, just because the President asks for something doesn't mean Congress will go along. As the The Detroit News notes, the President asked for $650 million for battery and vehicle research last year but Congress only approved $330 million. Also, there are still many billions of Department of Energy loan money left over from the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan (ATVMP).