In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for the nation to rapidly deploy electric cars and trucks to get the United States off oil dependence. The president has now been joined by one of America’s top Republican businessmen, FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith. In a Fortune column, Smith described how the “670 aircraft and 70,000 motorized vehicles” of his company deliver 7 million packages a day — “nearly every single one of which is fueled by oil.” This dependence “comes at a significant cost” Smith said, putting the U.S. military at risk and “requiring us to accommodate governments that share neither our values nor our goals.” Oil spikes bring about recessions, and “petroleum was responsible for 43% of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2009,” Smith, a supporter of George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, explained. However, Smith agreed with the president that America can power away from petroleum:
We cannot continue down this path. There is, however, a solution that may become economically attractive sooner than most think: cars and trucks powered by electricity. Electricity is generated by a diverse, domestic, stable, fundamentally scalable portfolio of fuels that is almost entirely free of oil.
A member of the Electrification Coalition, Smith called on Congress to enact the bipartisan Electric Vehicle Deployment Act which stalled last year in the Senate. Nuclear energy supporter Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and coal-friendly Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) have been the top champions.
“I am not someone who tends to advocate increased government involvement in the private sector,” Smith concluded. “But there is no free market for oil. This is not a market issue — it is a national security issue.”