Obama convention speech on energy

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"Obama convention speech on energy"

The text of Obama’s convention speech has been released. Here is what he said about energy:

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

B+, I think.

FRIDAY a.m. UPDATE: My apologies for the confusion on the grade — I dashed this off right before going to sleep. I meant B+ on the energy content (mainly because he didn’t add a sentence or two on global warming, though I suppose you could argue that Gore handled that).

The whole speech was easily A+. I just heard two famous conservative speechwriters, Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan, rave about the speech (on Today show and Morning Joe). Buchanan said it was one of the greatest convention speeches of all time.

To those commenters who are less happy about the speech, I’d say three things:

  1. The fact that he had Al Gore speak right before him and lay out the climate and energy story, should be incredibly heartening. You can be sure that you won’t hear any of that in Minneapolis.
  2. The fact that he can so inspire people means that when he turns his serious attention to climate and energy as President, we may actually for the first time take serious action.
  3. You have to win first to get progressive policies enacted. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of his energy proposals, read “A real energy plan for America: Efficiency now, 10% renewables by 2012, and one million plug-in hybrids by 2015.”
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26 Responses to Obama convention speech on energy

  1. “As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.”

    F for the first part, A for the second. May I suggest investigating thorium and the liquid-fluoride reactor, Senator Obama? You’ll find much to like about it.

  2. Brendan says:

    B+ on the whole speech or the excerpt? I must admit, I thought you were going to complain about the gas, clean coal and nuclear line.

    As much as I know he’ll do more than a McCain government, it’ll be interesting to see what a democratic president will accomplish (assuming he’s elected).

  3. Nestor says:

    B+? The Speech as a whole was at least an A. It answered all that needed to be answered and is a whole lot better than anything that will come out of McCain. Obama is finally tackling the issues with some aggression.

  4. paulm says:

    he’ll do more… but first he has to get elected.

  5. Wonhyo says:

    I thought the overall speech was excellent. I don’t know how the Republicans can effectively respond to it. I think JR is a little generous giving the energy part a B+. The opening sentence on the last paragraph (what Obama would do) promotes the use of fossil fuels (natural gas and coal) and nuclear power. Perhaps that was required for political expediency, but I hope we don’t waste too much money on “clean” coal or nuclear energy. There’s also no mention of conservation.

    While he’s much better than McCain, I still think Obama is an amateur on energy/environment compared to Al Gore. I was impressed that Al Gore omitted nuclear power from the energy part of his speech.

  6. Rick C says:

    I liked the promise to become free from foreign oil in 10 years but what does that mean? Does it mean we go to plug-in hybrids? Does it mean we take an ill-fated attempt with bio-fuels? What is the direction?

  7. charlie says:

    If you’re progressive, you need a full scale press to push that energy security = climate progress.

    And that is cars.

  8. Mark Shapiro says:

    Wonhyo says:

    ” There’s also no mention of conservation.”

    True. At least Gore mentioned it, as he did in his previous big speech.
    But Obama did say: ” we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient.”

    He’s calling on each of us.

  9. Alex 77 says:

    I echo Brandon’s sentiment that a B+ is generous. I’m sure you’ve got a fuller response coming, Joe. But I recoil and grow depressed at several things he said.

    To hear “clean coal” mentioned among the first prescriptions of Obama’s energy policy is, to my ears, a clear signal that he intends not only to expand the use of coal, but also to “Invest” (see: publicly finance) any deployment of CCS. What a disaster to climate realists, and what a tribute to the coal lobby and it’s many funders.

    Most painful of all is that this man, this now best hope for our climate, would submit to using the expression “Clean Coal” in one of the most widely received and influential speeches of the last half century. There aren’t two words whose combination is more contrary to science, degrading to our understanding of energy, and consequential to our planet. Welcome to the American nomenclature, “Clean Coal,” and congratulations on your continued coronation. I’m sure we’ll hear even more about you in the presidential debates, through both Obama’s speechifying and the ACCCE lobbying group’s marketing cyclone. Your message will be everything most Americans will need to hear about you to make their judgement about coal’s use.

    Clean Coal. What should we think were Obama to use the expression “cut and run” to describe an anti-war proposal he opposes? It could only mean one thing. I deeply wish I could interpret this as a necessary pandering to a vital voting demographic, possibly one to be abandoned whence Obama is elected. I can’t – please explain to me how this is not a prediction of an Obama administration’s energy priorities, and the interests it will serve.

    “Help our auto companies retool,” say you? I have the strange feeling that by this you mean “bail Detroit out of its self-induced death spiral.” Yes, Mr. Obama, please direct the American people’s money (credit) towards preventing these pillars of American industry from bearing the costs of their insane mismanagement. Let them suffer no consequence for 25+ years of conning Americans into SUVs and trucks that would vastly deepen our oil addiction and degrade our planet. That will surely teach them not to base their business models around wasteful, shoddy, dangerous products popularized through lies. And be sure to attach no strings, add no regulations, and allow the lobbying and power structure that enabled this situation to remain in place.

    I simply can’t have confidence that Obama will employ successful climate policy, or properly incentivize (and dis-incentivize) business to do what is needed, given this speech. It contained so many of the exactly wrong buzzwords, and lacked mention of numerous solutions we can’t succeed without. We won’t make it without immediate and permanent energy conservation and efficiency, and they didn’t warrant a mention.

    Climate change’s priority was expressed by it’s mention among a laundry list of ills he’ll confront, bookended by genocide and disease.

    Obama’s support from Al Gore and Carl Pope and Joe Romm gives me pause in my despair, but I fear that they are attaching themselves to Obama as the “least bad” alternative. I’ll vote for him enthusiastically for many reasons, but his energy and climate policies don’t appear to be among them.

  10. Paul K says:

    Climate voters should compare Obama’s plan to McCain’s. Consider also that McCain has actually introduced climate legislation in the Senate and that, when the Bush Cheney energy bill finally came to a vote in 2005, Obama voted for it while McCain voted against it.

  11. ClaudeB says:

    Rick C: Obama said “in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.“. If you add the imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait (I don’t have the numbers for the other gulf countries on hand), that’s approximately 2.4 mbpd, or roughly 12% of US consumption.

  12. llewelly says:

    As I have been in the past, I’m impressed with Obama’s ability to build an inspiring speech out of specific policy promises. However, with respect to climate, I was quite disappointed by his failure to reject the fraud that is clean coal . Alex’s concerns about Obama’s use of deceiver language are right on target. Further – I didn’t see any mention of global warming (in a political speech, ‘climate change’ is much too soft, and doesn’t count), much less a direct link between the need to replace fossil fuels and reduce energy consumption. This is not the speech I would expect from a president who could put us on target for 450ppm.
    What we’ve seen over the last 6 months is that both candidates have shifted strongly toward denier positions. There was a time when Chris Mooney could justifiably claim that the whoever the next president was, some real action against global warming was likely. Now, despite what Paul K. has pointed to, I don’t think we can expect meaningful action from McCain. And Obama’s position now seems anemic compared to what I thought it was 6 months ago. The only real cause for optimism on Obama is that Al Gore at least continues to support Obama, and Al Gore’s judgement on these matters is usually good.
    (FWIW, although I’m still planning on an Obama vote, I don’t need to vote for the lesser of two evils. I live in Utah. If I vote for Cynthia McKinney, Obama’s electoral college votes will be unaffected.)

  13. Ronald says:

    This isn’t Obama’s energy speech, it’s his democratic nomination speech. He needs to get elected, it’s not helpful to mention things that can be picked apart by the opposition.

    Finally the democrates get someone who has a clue as to what it takes to win an election and they are all over him that its bad to be smart enough and to not be stupid to give your opposition things that might be true, but is harder to defend. This in not the place you tell people you are an atheist, you say ‘God Bless America and God Bless our Troops’ louder and better than the other candidate.

    Is Obama the best candidate and candidate from the best party for energy and reducing Global Warming? Yes. The rest is all about getting elected in a world where fossil fuel companies have billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of employees and major news networks against that candidate getting elected.

  14. Lou Grinzo says:

    Everyone here beat me to the points I was planning to make, especially about “clean coal” and finding a way to make nuclear power work.

    This was the only passage I didn’t like in the entire speech, and to be blunt, I REALLY didn’t like it. Obama still has my vote in November, but I will cast it with the hope that he changes course on these policy issues.

  15. Nick Kong says:

    Paul K: I’m sick and tired of these washed out talking points from the McCain camp. Truth be told, when it comes to the environment, your candidate is just not as GOOD, and can only ride on the accomplishment of ONE thing, which happened FIVE years ago.

    At least Obama has done the following (I’m sure there’s more):
    -Introduced, with Dick Durbin and Lugar, legislation calling for higher fuel economy standards in 2005
    -Introduced Health Care for Hybrids Act
    -Showed up for several key votes in 2007… while campaigning as well
    -Calls for 80% by 2050, what scientists claim is needed for GHG reductions

    That’s all I remember off top of my head.

    McCain didn’t even show up for any of the votes last year… including the one critical vote missing from the Dec. bill for renewable energy tax credit extensions.

    http://capwiz.com/lcv_stage/bio/keyvotes/?id=192&congress=1102&lvl=C

    Face it, when it comes to the environment (and I suspect many other areas), McCain is just a halfway (quarter way?) solution to what is truly needed.

  16. charlesH says:

    We now have Republicans(McCain) pushing for more nuclear power (plus other). Democrats (Obama/Biden) and AGW (e.g. Hansen) pushing for “greener” nuclear power (and wind/solar etc).

    Everyone likes the PHEV concept.

    Let’s build :

    a) wind for PHEV recharging (no storage necessary).
    b) CSP for AC loads and offset nat gas (only small storage needed).
    c) PV for retail distributed power (as it is cost effective).
    d) Nuclear (going to greener LFTR) to offset coal base load.

    Over the next 20-40 years we can adjust the mix of energy technologies as we gain experience. Let’s all stop fighting each other and get of foreign oil and coal.

  17. Michael says:

    I was a little disappointed in the commitment to drill and advance “clean” coal power. I wish he would have stuck to his guns on off-shore drilling and not fallen for the fraud of “clean” coal.

  18. Dano says:

    What llewelly said.

    Best,

    D

  19. Earl Killian says:

    I am surprised that no one has analyzed the call to end our dependence on Middle East oil in 10 years. There are only two ways to do this that I see:
    (1) Reduce US consumption below US production, and ban imports and exports so that we are isolated from the world market;
    or
    (2) Reduce US consumption to near zero, so we just don’t care about the world market. Only 16% of US petroleum imports today are from the Persian Gulf, but what happens there sets the price of oil regardless of whether we import a drop or not, because it is a world market (I interpret that as dependence). Even if the US were an oil exporter, the price Americans pay at the pump would be set by the world market. That’s way #1 above has to add “and ban imports and exports”.

    How likely are either #1 or #2 to happen in 10 years? I am a big advocate of ending our addiction to fossils, and I can see us getting to near zero petroleum by 2050, but by 2020 it looks impossible. What we heard last night was simply campaign rhetoric.

  20. Bob Wallace says:

    To paraphrase…

    Change (generally) doesn’t come from Washington. Change (generally) is brought to Washington.

    Obama’s climate statements, I think, represent where the American people are at this point in time. People aren’t necessarily aware of cutting edge developments in wind, solar, batteries, storage, etc. As knowledge speads (and as promising technologies prove out) people will most likely move in a more “green” direction.

    Give us a couple affordable PHEV choices.

    Give us an operating thermal solar farm with multiple hour storage that produces affordable power.

    Give us a couple of viable storage solutions such as the compressed air facility just funded in New Jersey.

    People need working solutions, not prototypes. When we can clearly demonstrate the ability to produce power from non-fossil fuel sources and do it for the same or less money then the greater population will abandon “clean coal” and “drill everywhere, drill now”.

    Obama is smart, intellectually curious, and not tied to fixed ideas. As the way forward becomes clearer he’ll get to where he needs to be.

    (He’s probably a lot further along than one would assume from the speech. But he needs to get elected first, then he will have the option to get way out front and lead.)

  21. “(2) Reduce US consumption to near zero, so we just don’t care about the world market. Only 16% of US petroleum imports today are from the Persian Gulf, but what happens there sets the price of oil regardless of whether we import a drop or not, because it is a world market (I interpret that as dependence). Even if the US were an oil exporter, the price Americans pay at the pump would be set by the world market. That’s way #1 above has to add “and ban imports and exports”.”

    Spot on, Earl. That’s the only way to end US oil dependence. Now the next question to ask is how to actually accomplish this lofty goal. Electric cars and massive amounts of new generation are the first things that come to my mind.

  22. Dano says:

    How likely are either #1 or #2 to happen in 10 years?

    This is politics, Earl, not reality. But it was excellent political theater in which the idea was delivered.

    At any rate, i’m with you in your concerns. I like the 10 year time frame, though, because it will likely take us ~4-6 years to stop bickering and decide on a general direction. We’ll have a couple of years of the Presidency left to try to get laws enacted, and by then it should be obvious that man-made climate change is going to need serious attention. So the decade time frame is, sociologically doable.

    Best,

    D

  23. David B. Benson says:

    In today’s TNYT there is a pic of a man in Oslo filling his tank for the local equivalent of $150.

    The point of the article is that higher prices are doing little to exxtinguish demand. Economists call that ‘inelastic’.

    For those so impressed by automobiles, what perceentage of cars in 2018 will be less than ten years old?

  24. Robert says:

    Its all rubbish. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of the US ending its love affair with oil or, indeed, in cutting emissions at all. What is much more likley is that China and India will follow the US’s shining example and get their own per-capita emissions up to US level over the next 20 years or so.

    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/prc.html

    How can any speech about energy and emissions ignore population growth? Surely there should be a call to stop having so many damned babies???!!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:World_population_(UN).svg

    Lastly, why does every speech end with “God bless America”. If you said that at a UK party conference you would be branded a religious nut and never be allowed to speak in public again.

  25. shop says:

    The whole speech was easily A+. I just heard two famous conservative speechwriters, Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan, rave about the speech (on Today show and Morning Joe). Buchanan said it was one of the greatest convention speeches of all time.

  26. utanma says:

    ole speech was easily A+. I just heard two famous conservative speechwriters, Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan, rave about the speech (on Today show and Morning Joe). Buchanan said it was one of the greatest convention speeches of all time.