President Barack Obama delivered a State of the Union address that aggressively defended his successful work to save the American auto industry, the centerpoint of American manufacturing, and directly addressed the unfairness of our economic system that has led to rapidly growing economic inequality.
However, the president avoided a direct admission of the greatest threat to the future of the American economy: rapidly increasing climate change from unlimited fossil fuel pollution. Instead, Obama promoted an “all-of-the-above” energy future:
This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
Praising the boom in domestic oil and gas drilling, Obama announced that he is “directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” He called for “every possible action” to develop “a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years.”
The “one hundred years” supply of gas is questionable. More importantly, burning that supply would emit about 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide.
Unlike the tepid applause he received when he called for an expansion of offshore drilling, Obama received roars of applause when he said:
We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.
Obama blamed Congress for federal inaction in his only mention of the fundamental threat of climate change, saying:
The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.
The President of the United States is supposed to address the state of the union in his annual address — but Obama sadly ignored the costliest year of climate disasters in American history, with over a dozen billion-dollar-disasters caused by our poisoned weather and our nation’s lack of preparedness. His work to build a clean energy future deserves the standing ovation it received in the Capitol tonight, but that future will be smashed by the destructive power of a polluted climate if much greater effort is not made.
Read the president’s remarks on energy, the environment, and his single mention of the existence of climate change:
Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.
But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.
The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.
When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”
Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.
We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.
Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.
I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.