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A New U.S. Energy Plan: Sell Oil Reserves, Use Profits to Invest in Clean Tech

Fin - Daily Ticker - US

Presidents and politicians of all political affiliations have said for decades the U.S. must find an energy source that can serve as a viable alternative to crude oil imports from foreign nations -- a fair number of which aren't exactly gushing supporters of the red, white and blue.

That talk hasn't translated into much action, however. Now oil prices are up again, holding above $110 a barrel, which is sending gas prices higher and weighing on consumers. Finding a solution we can all agree on regarding America's energy future isn't going to be easy. Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, believes his group has the answer.

"There's a few things we have to do to fight the recent spike in oil prices," he tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. "First, we need to crack down on speculators -- make sure that they're not intentionally driving up prices in order to make a quick buck. Second, let's eliminate the $40 billion in subsidies [over 10 years] for big oil companies that are going to make overwhelming profits anyway." (See: Tax Breaks for Big Oil Make "No Fiscal, Moral or Political Sense" )Additionally, Weiss is pushing for more fuel-efficient cars, specifically vehicles that would get 60-plus miles per gallon by 2025. He's also advocating a limit, starting in 2013, on the amount of foreign oil the U.S. imports each year and reducing that total by 5% a year.

"That will drive investment into oil-reduction technologies because they know that there will be a market for the product," he says. Weiss wants to increase "market demand" for clean energies such as wind and solar, but the question of practicality arises.

For Weiss, the hope is that energy alternatives will continue their trend toward becoming less expensive. If traditional sources of power such as coal- and nuclear-generated electricity see their costs rise, wind and solar will become "more economical than they are today."

The U.S., he contends, is behind what other nations like China and Germany are doing, and that needs to change. "This is going to be a $2 trillion worldwide market," he says of clean energy. "It's important that we're competitive."

Weiss has also recommended that the White House consider selling up to 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and then invest the proceeds in public transportation and energy alternatives.

"It would generate over $3 billion," he says. "We could invest that money in making transit much more accessible and affordable for people."

For more of his thoughts on energy and policy, be sure to watch the accompanying interview.