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Pres Obama Hits High Notes in State of Union

February 12th, 2013 · 3 Comments

After several years of essentially ignoring Climate Change in the State of the Union address, President Obama spoke forcefully about climate change and clean energy in the speech. While there are some significant problems embedded in the discussion, such as praise for natural gas, there is significant material worth cheering, supporting, and building on.

Amid all of this, perhaps the best might be P+P=P. Priority + Payoff = PROMISE!

If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.

This is an excellent and truthful statement.

And, as can be seen after the fold, the State of the Union blows through the Climate Silence barrier and signals that President Obama won’t return behind it.

BREAK for a moment: As for Marco Rubio and the Republican response,

After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

The “all of the above” praise of oil production growth isn’t so wonderful on climate change terms and we are discovering things about methane leakage in natural gas, but this is the ‘truth’ of “All of the Above”.

Here is a sentence for which viewers didn’t see a single Republican standing and applauding.

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.

Not … a … single one …

Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.

Yes … but …

But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.

Let us choose science.

The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Sadly, the President refers to a bill that was inadequate when proposed and would be even worse today with all our new knowledge. But, Senator McCain had to sit there as he and his best friend (the former Senator from the Lieberman Party) were referenced as a model of getting business done.

Most importantly, President Obama put down a marker — act or I will act.

In fact, President Obama should be telling the Executive Branch to be acting — with all the tools available — because there is no time to waste waiting for Congress to ask.

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

Great framing, in my opinion, we’re doing great — but we’re in competition and we can’t afford to lose sight of that competition.

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.

Sigh, the voice of CONG (oops, C doesn’t appear in this speech – no “clean coal” references … thus ONG), Oil & Natura Gas, appear. The Obama Administration has actually made the permitting process much easier than was the case during those oil-hating Bush/Cheney years. Not many Americans know this.

But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.

There is actually an interim. Work to assure that there is less waste in the actual extraction and production process — such as driving down methane leakage during gas production.

Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.

Okay, let’s drive down oil demand — but the actual proposal includes natural gas vehicles, which is moving our transportation from one fossil foolish system to another. The $10s of billions (likely $100s of billions) to create a natural gas vehicle (NGV) fleet would be far better spent on other paths to reduce our oil demands.

I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

This is a good target.

Energy Efficiency is a powerful tool to create jobs, reduce costs, and reduce pollution.

And, let’s make the states compete for best paths forward.

And, foster learning from one institution to another.

America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of Siemens America – a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina – has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings.

It is time to have serious investment in infrastructure — clean energy infrastructure for the 21st century.

There is no such thing as a perfect speech.

There are serious problems.

  • “All of the Above” is a disastrous energy and climate policy.
  • The referencing of the weak and mediocre McCain-Lieberman is not a wonderful template for action as some might see in the speech.

  • There is something insidious about talking about how serious climate change is while bragging about (and promoting) things that make the situation worse — like increased oil production and natural gas fracking.

However, this is a far better speech on energy and climate issues than occurred in 2012.

This provides many things to think about and many comments to leverage.

Mr. President, thank you for this speech. Now, let’s make a reality of the good ideas in it.

BREAK — The SEEC reaction to the SOTU

SEEC: Statement on President’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following the President’s State of the Union address, members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) released the following statement:

“We are pleased and further encouraged that the President continues to push for action to address our changing climate. The threat is real, evidenced by the raging storms, unruly wildfires, and persistent droughts that have plagued our country in recent years. Together, the President and Congress must rise to the challenge and move on solutions to address this pressing issue. This is the moment for action. The choices we make now, whether we choose to act or choose to turn a blind eye, will define our mutual legacy for generations to come.

“As one way to slow these extreme weather events and to spur greater economic growth, we echo the President’s call to push forward with clean solutions for America’s energy needs. Our domestic clean energy sector has grown at a rate of 8.3 percent, and we should make every effort to capitalize on this by both increasing the number of green jobs and diversifying our economy to embrace this growing sector. We also need to be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars. One way to accomplish this is by doing as members of our Coalition have long advocated: end the billions of dollars in taxpayer handouts for Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal.

“SEEC Members look forward to working with the President, his Administration, and our colleagues in Congress on the various ideas and proposals outlined during the State of the Union address this evening.”


ICYMI: What SEEC Co-Chairs Paul Tonko and Gerry Connolly called for prior to the State of the Union:

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Tags: barack obama · climate change · Energy · President Barack Obama · renewable energy

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