In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will highlight the administration’s fossil and renewable energy achievements, touting that the U.S. now produces more than half of its oil domestically and has expanded natural gas, solar, and wind development. The United States is on its way to becoming a global clean-energy leader, Center for American Progress Chairman John Podesta and Tom Steyer of Farallon Capital Management write in the Wall Street Journal:
In the hubbub around the president’s decision not to approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States, Americans missed the big picture. While conservatives have been fighting to build a pipeline to import more foreign oil and deepen U.S. dependence, the U.S. is poised to transform its energy portfolio by developing domestic resources — renewable and mineral — that will let it become a net exporter of clean energy and energy technology in this decade.
Podesta and Steyer — who was a leader in the fight to protect California’s climate laws — are bullish on the domestic natural gas boom, though they note the “critical environmental questions associated with developing these resources.” They believe that “as long as we ensure high regulatory standards and stay away from the riskiest and most polluting of these activities, we can safely assemble a collection of lower-carbon, affordable and abundant domestic-energy assets that will dramatically improve our economy and our environment.”
Importantly, the United States has regained the title of the world’s top investor in clean energy. “Our companies make over 75% of all venture investments in clean technologies world-wide,” and “the clean economy grew by 8.3% from 2008 to 2009, even during the depths of the recession.” A commitment to clean energy isn’t just about generating good jobs:
Such jobs provide a strong middle-class income to workers who have technical skills beyond high school but who lack a four-year college degree. What’s more, U.S. clean-energy investment shows moral leadership, as we combine our advanced energy strategies with strong safeguards to protect our citizens and our planet from polluters and the worst impacts of global warming.
“Our economy can go from being weighed down by oil imports to soaring ahead, powered increasingly by domestically produced clean energy, and energy services and technology,” Podesta and Steyer conclude. “The Obama administration has taken a smart approach, but Congress must now work with the president to secure our leadership position going forward.”