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Obama: ‘Let’s Keep Moving Forward On An All-Of-The Above Energy Strategy … Where We Produce More Oil & Gas Here….’

By Joe Romm

"Obama: ‘Let’s Keep Moving Forward On An All-Of-The Above Energy Strategy … Where We Produce More Oil & Gas Here….’"

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The President loves fossil fuels, at least when they are extracted here — or, rather, anywhere in North America. On Friday the UK Guardian reported, “White House officials … gave strong indications the President is inclined to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.”

On Saturday, Obama gave a big wet kiss to oil and gas in his weekly radio address:

Let’s keep moving forward on an all-of-the-above energy strategy.  A strategy where we produce more oil and gas here at home, but also more biofuels and fuel-efficient vehicles; more solar power and wind power.  A strategy where we put more people to work building cars, homes and businesses that waste less energy.  We can do this.  We’re Americans.  And when we commit ourselves to something, there’s no telling how far we’ll go.

Watch it:

Now it is true that Obama was touting his proposed “Energy Security Trust to fund research into new technologies that will help us” finally “shift our cars and trucks off of oil for good.”

But I’ll bet you didn’t know this included research into vehicles that run on fossil fuels with higher life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions:

We can support scientists who are designing new engines that are more energy efficient; developing cheaper batteries that go farther on a single charge; and devising new ways to fuel our cars and trucks with new sources of clean energy – like advanced biofuels and natural gas – so drivers can one day go coast-to-coast without using a drop of oil.

Yes, in the Energy Security Trust, natural gas vehicles count as replacing oil with “new sources of clean energy.” Not.

As the National Journal reported last year:

“The president has proposed we switch trucks to natural gas, and I’m here to tell you today that every truck we switch to natural gas damages the atmosphere,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said at the IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates annual conference here. Krupp said the little data available about how much methane — a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide — escapes during the production of shale natural gas compels him to refuse to support a shift toward more natural-gas vehicles.

Doesn’t exactly make one feel more secure or trusting.

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50 Responses to Obama: ‘Let’s Keep Moving Forward On An All-Of-The Above Energy Strategy … Where We Produce More Oil & Gas Here….’

  1. Bill Wilson says:

    It seems he has done the same as at State where the lobbies and insiders hand feed false and misleading information at best. The idea the Keystone will not dramaticall escalate TarSands and global warming is simply to ignore the science and independent study. The other harms when looked at comprehensively would make it a clear contradiction for the Presidents promise to end the tyranny of carbon. Children are already suffering from asthma and cancers 10 times higher downstream. People around the world will look at this and at some point down the road agree it was a crime against humanity and the ALL OF THE ABOVE was intellectually and morally bankrupt as status quo industry has the President work for them not the common good.

    • Thomas Rodd says:

      ‘The idea the Keystone will not dramatically escalate Tar Sands and global warming is simply to ignore the science and independent study.’

      Got a link to a factual refutation of the State Dept. draft on this point?

      • Sasparilla says:

        You don’t even need it Thomas.

        The Keystone XL expansion will result in a ~30-40% tar sands pipeline volume increase for the tar oil (the other tar sands pipelines are the Keystone 1 and the Alberta Clipper) and there isn’t another a high volume export avenue for it (at this point).

        So you’ve got two hoses there running already (started in the last couple of years) and you’re going to add a bigger hose than either of the previous two.

        • Thomas Rodd says:

          Our local paper, the Charleston WV Gazette, had a wire service article this morning explaining the view that rail traffic will pick up the slack if the Keystone is not built. The article seemed balanced.

          It still appears that there is no fact-based analysis/refutation to be found on the web of the Draft EIS conclusion that approval of the Keystone pipeline would not make that much difference on tar sands-related carbon emissions.

          Whether one thinks such a fact-based analysis/refutation is “needed” or not probably depends on one’s viewpoint. My typically skeptical viewpoint would welcome such information.

          Sasparilla, if you know of any written source with facts, references, etc. that purports to refute the analysis in the draft EIS on this issue, please link to it.

          Personally, I feel that it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect Obama to expend much political capital on action that — on the evidence before him — would not make any difference, except as a symbolic veto of a fossil-fuel-related project.

  2. Keystone XL is a 30 YEAR COMMITMENT to some of the most climate damaging oil on earth.

    Five BILLION tonnes of CO2 will come through that pipeline over three decades.

    Obama does NOT need to make such a long term commitment that LOCKS IN so much climate damage. His own State Department report says the same number of jobs and oil can come via railroads which can be used for other things should the world decide to save itself.

    Plus a glance at the atmospheric CO2 chart shows that the fight for a stable climate desperately needs a SYMBOL that things need to change. Nothing so far has even slowed the increase in CO2 in the climate. If not KXL then what, Mr President??

  3. Bill says:

    Has does he reconcile his position and being a parent?

    • Mark E says:

      If fossil-fuel commerce is likened to Jim Crow and the “Whites Only” lunch counter in Selma Alabama,

      What is our analog to the sit ins that helped end segregation?

  4. Jay Alt says:

    “Obama Gets It,” pundits said in 2008. That sounded right to me.

    Today “It” is exposed as the story Obama tells himself. “It” is subject to convenient change. (He’d say of necessity.)

    The low-bar policies are led by mute shepherds. The voices of passion, the Van Jones, are thinned. The others fall_in_line. Not a Diogenes in the lot.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Chomsky and Nader nailed Obama from the beginning, just by looking at his record and precisely who it is that owns him and finances him. Obama’s betrayals have often been egregiously excessive, as in his pursuit of Manning with the threat of the death penalty for whistle-blowing, which he had sworn blind that he would protect. This con-man is one right out of the box, who, in my opinion, really relishes his betrayals and thoroughly enjoys the impotent outrage of the ‘Hope’ patsies.

  5. M Tucker says:

    I am not at all surprised by any of this. I had been fooled by some of Obama’s speeches in the past but after reviewing his speeches for the first campaign I have discovered that his basic message has not changed. I now take him at his word when he says all of the above he means all of the above. I know that a Republican would not continue to support wind or solar and a Republican would not bring up ending tax subsidies for big oil. So I take what I can get. It is a shame that this is the best we can do but you have to admit the rest of the world is not ready to tackle climate disruption in a serious way either.

    Yes, Obama will approve the Keystone extension and he will push for natural gas vehicles along with better batteries, more efficient gasoline engines, and biofuels. That is the best he can do.

    Here is what Steven Chu said in a Scientific American interview with David Biello from 3/12/12.

    “We also see a moderation, a flattening, perhaps even a decrease, in the use of transportation fuels as we go to more efficient automobiles. We see more diversification of transportation energy. Liquified natural gas for long-haul trucks has already been shown to make sense.”

    See, it makes sense to Obama and Chu and it is industry friendly. Very few Democrats are actually as antagonistic towards the fossil fuel industry as many in the environmental and ‘climate’ community seem to be. I have come to accept that inconvenient truth. At least the Democrats, in general, are not trying to move backwards as the Republicans want to do. At least Obama still promotes electric vehicles, wind and solar. At this point in time that seems to be the best we can get.

  6. Endofmore says:

    Obama is locked into the same economic system as everybody else.
    Energy production, first coal, then oil then gas, created our wheeled industrial system. We now know no other way, and we collectively demand of our politicians that our lifestyle carries on as it has done for the last century.The American Way is sacrosanct, and everyone must believe that. Politicians who promise it—along with infinite growth—get voted into office, When the growth stalls, they get voted out
    But it is not a political problem, its an energy problem
    the world built its industrial infrastructure on the reality of cheap energy, but now we are faced with expensive energy while our leaders delude themselves and us that we are going to have cheap energy again–and into infinity.

    • Jim says:

      Obama is not locked in at all. If he takes climate change serious he should act and he has plenty of power to influence climate through EPA etc.

      KXL is the best example. No one forces him to approve it. If he does he either does not take the threat seriously OR he trades this against a big carbon tax or similar system. In the long run we may be better off with a serious carbon tax than without, and if KXL is the price we have to pay ?

      A serious carbon tax will do more to stop dirty fuels from being used than any one specific pipeline approval. The tar sands may even suffer sufficiently from carbon tax that it becomes uneconomical.

      • Endofmore says:

        we are locked into a commercial system that gives us our current lifestyle
        If Obama tinkers with it too much, it will drastically affect employment, and the critical factor for every voter is his job and livelihood
        If he loses that–he blames whoever in is office
        So Obama must keep the system going as long as he can—hopeless I know, but he has no choice

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          ‘…our current lifestyle’? You mean forty years of stagnation for median wages and several years of consecutive falls in media household wealth (around 50% for black and Hispanic households). The only ‘lifestyle’ Obama is out to protect is his and that of his billionaire owners and controllers.

          • Endofmore says:

            agreed—but it’s the only ‘lifestyle’ on offer.
            it is entirely locked into the energy production system, if energy production fails, then everybody goes down
            of course it will fail anyway, but nobody is prepared to admit that—just keep things afloat as long as possible.
            there is no magic wand in the hands of some as yet unheard of political system, no utopian ‘downsizing’ of everything to create some better life for everyone.
            our lives are geared to the here and now
            a dead end i agree, but there it is, we all jumped on the economic bandwagon when times were good, now the party’s over.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Well, endof, yours is a very bleak prognosis. It sounds like the old ‘Olduvai’ thesis, that we are irreversibly on the road back to the Stone Age. And I thought I was a pessimistic realist! I rather hold out a faint hope, at about 10% possibility, that we can downsize and move to truly ecologically sustainable ways of life. It certainly requires a 90% or so reduction in human population, which, of course, is coming in any case. I’d prefer it measured and humane rather than Malthusian. I believe that there are people of goodwill, high morality and expertise who could lead such a transformation, but, as long as capitalism rules the human world, it will never come to pass. Or predicament is essentially ideological in nature ie psychological in origin.

          • Endofmore says:

            i recognise that what I’m saying is pretty awful, but consider what a 90% reduction in population means, which you agree is inevitable Mulga
            A nation of 60 million–the uk for instance, might be reduced to 6 million, the USA to 30 million, roughly the level of the early 19th c.
            I think the problem with that is in the thinking that 30 million people can just pick up the remnants of a society left off by 300 million.
            a society of 300 million is an interconnected integrated industrialised whole, which everyone is pretty much dependent on the services and industry of everybody else.
            If you isolate (as a typical example) just one of those services you will see the danger we face,
            We take our current health for granted, yet it exists only because we have an industrial system to support it. Every aspect of our healthcare is factory driven. Hospitals are (per capita) one of the biggest consumers of energy. Our wastes are removed and disposed of, clean water is supplied, again, courtesy of our industrialised system. Your doctor prescribes drugs, factory made in perfect conditions, not concocted from herbs in his back room. You need surgery? Your aneasthetic is factory produced to order, the hospital theatre is sterile—made so by industrial strength cleaning products, as are all the whirring gizmos that keep you alive
            One tenth of the population may be able to tend their gardens, but they will not have the spare capacity for anything else. We can only afford our healthcare industry through the excess production of everybody else. This is why there isn’t going to be a gentle downsizing into a life of bucolic peasantry
            It is that spare capacity that provides ‘civilisation’
            But having said that, I would like to proved wrong—but not with a series of ‘but ifs–and what ifs’, or a lot of wish-science based on dream technology that hasn’t happened yet.

    • BobbyL says:

      So the question is: how does the world make a rapid energy transition away from fossil fuels while world population continues to rapidly grow adding the equivalent of another India every 20 years and a number of large developing countries are in the midst of the greatest economic transition in terms of number of people becoming affluent in human history? So far the answer is it doesn’t.

      • Endofmore says:

        the reality is that our high energy use industrial/farming system allowed 7 billion people to exist on a planet capable of supporting 1 billion
        which means that 6 billion of us don’t have much of a future

  7. Endofmore says:

    we should also consider the following

    “I am inaugurating a program to marshal both government and private research with the goal of producing an unconventionally powered virtually pollution free automobile within five years.” Richard Nixon, 1969

    “We’ll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switchgrass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years.” George W Bush, 2007

    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. Barack Obama 2013

  8. I have thought of Obama as a master chess player, but this doesn’t really look like it.

    It is pretty impossible to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

    • Jay Alt says:

      He is a Master at political chess.
      e.g. I think changing the NEPA to require considering GHG emissions is a great move. For Obama, it gives others some legal tools to slow rotten projects. He stays above the fray, avoiding the messy details (which he seems to dislike). And little will change because the NEPA only requires projects to identify the best available technology. They aren’t required to actually use it to clean things up. Economics interests still get the last word.

  9. Tami Kennedy says:

    Our greed and materialism fed by capitalism and its mismanaged waste clearly prevents us from making the necessary climate progress. They are so interlinked. Much of our automation flows from the desire to make more money quicker and easier without concern for far reaching impacts. We put far more value in some iPhone 6 or iWatch than the environment we live in. We need to start taking smart action and maybe with luck some startling discovery builds off that action. Instead of the absolute belief in our ability to solve the problem when it is at a critical stage, counting on the startling discovery. Exxon’s faith in their engineers…

  10. Sasparilla says:

    Thank you Joe for bringing out these little details from what Obama has said. So one of the parties is finally pushing for natural gas in vehicles…ugh. The oil industry was holding this back in D.C. so far, and may still prevail (they have the gas stations), but we’ll see.

    He has an energy policy that cuts his GOP rivals off at the knees – its totally wrong from the most important issue of today (climate change) – but it seems he just lives in the shorter term political advantage world (climate change action is obviously a “Nice to Have” and not a very important one at that).

    An important thing to note, is that natural gas is prone to volatile prices and over time past 2016 will get back to high places again (I believe its risen more than 50% in the last year, but is still low & will be for years).

  11. Tami Kennedy says:

    Obama dances 3 steps forward, 2 steps back.

    • Sasparilla says:

      If you’re talking about climate change action Tami, I think you’re being way too generous to the President.

      He’s been very good for green energy (and fossil fuel energy) but on pure climate change action choices, he’s been a disaster (thinking of approval of Keystone 1 & Alberta Clipper tar sands pipelines in 2009, expanded coal production on public lands, expanded offshore oil drilling right before the BP disaster, choosing to blow the chance of a generation to pass the Cap-N-Trade bill in 2009 and on and on through the above).

      On climate change I’d say he dances 3 steps back, talks about 5 steps forward (“when the oceans will stop rising”) in a great speech then dances 2 more steps back.

  12. Dave S. Nottear says:

    I think we should have another protest.

    That’ll show ‘em.

  13. If we are to be serious about reducing CO2 emissions we need to have the intestinal fortitude to say no to going all out to expand tar sands. We can’t delude ourselves that this is any kind of a livable or viable option. And that includes the President, who has done so much good work to increase renewables and efficiency. Sadly, he falls down on KXL.

  14. David Goldstein says:

    Family intervention: “Dad, you are an alcoholic and if you don’t stop drinking now you will endanger your life and the lives of your loved ones”. Dad, “Hmmmm. I hear you and I thank you for your concern and I am ready to take bold action. Here’s my plan- I am going to go to a couple AA meetings. I will also – over the next couple decades- slowly switch over from my 90 proof Southern Comfort to a lower proof brand of bourbon. And instead of having 6 beers in the evening, I will drink 3 glasses of wine. That ought to do it!”

  15. Mark E says:

    I caught a lot of gruff before the election saying that….

    (1) Republicans are lemmings galloping towards the cliff, and

    (2) Democrats are lemmings headed that direction at a fast walk.

    Been saying it for 20 years, and it’s still true.

    • David Goldstein says:

      Yes, Mark, this goes to the heart of the matter in many ways. And I agree with you. When it comes to social rights issues such as civil rights for African Americans, women, the gay population, etc., I believe there IS a significant difference. But when it comes to kowtowing and/or aligning with the Big Players of the capitalist growth paradigm- there is not very much at all to chose from between the ‘conservatives’ and the ‘liberals’. Climate change policy obviously needs out-of-the-box action and- well, we’ve got Obama til 2016- perhaps if the Arctic summer ice goes to zero by then, a truly ‘Green’ candidate will get some traction.

  16. Obama, who is rich and well-connected, will probably live to regret this. I’m not sure how many of the rest of us will.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Maybe, but sudden tornados and raging fires are no respecters of wealth or status, ME

      • I’m with you there, ME.

        And by the way, I read your comment re: my comment on Oregon’s current mini-drought. (The article on the Jet Stream.) You mentioned the chaotic climate changes in Australia. You might not realize it, but Oregon has a reputation for rain, rain, and more rain. So, yes, what’s up next with our new climate chaos is anybody’s guess. I read the term “climate chaos” on a blog last week, and I find myself using it more than “climate change” to describe what’s going on.

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          There was a time about 8-9 months ago when everybody, including the meterologists, looked at the synoptic chart and said OMG. There were many lows going haywire. I can also remember the first time when instead of the high and lows marching across the continent in their normal place in an orderly arrangement, they were still orderly but too far south. That was in the early 1990s. Thats gone, only 23 years ago. I only predict unpredictability in the weather now and ‘chaos’ is the most accurate term, ME

  17. Ernest says:

    I am not surprised. Energy security trumps climate change. I think this is going to be true with *any* American president short of a major public outcry that places climate change as top priority, and this amongst the many competing security and economic agendas.

    • Sasparilla says:

      Well reasoned and said Earnest….going outside of this makes you an easy political target otherwise.

      We have to make Climate Action impossible to avoid for our “representatives” in D.C..

      I’m thinking we need to start targeting the initial melt out of the north pole that’s coming in a few years – we might be able to marshal a serious mass protest by then.

    • Jim says:

      Wait for Pearl Harbour.

  18. MarkF says:

    surprised?

    Only if you ignore everything he’s said, and done, and all things he hasn’t said or done.

    Over the long term, the tally of destruction, from his abysmal performance will be truly spectacular.

    Yet we know, he couldn’t care less. He’s gonna get his.

    He’s an utter failure.

  19. BobbyL says:

    This reminds me why I voted for Rocky Anderson for president and not Barack Obama.

  20. ltr says:

    This is what President Obama is all about.

  21. We can’t reduce GHGs by expanding fossil fuel use, no matter what the flavor. All new fossil fuel will be consumed somewhere in the world; none of it will displace any other.

  22. Mark Shapiro says:

    We — humans — have enjoyed an unbridled subsidy since the discovery of fire: free waste disposal, in our seemingly infinite air.

    The more we burn, the bigger the subsidy.

    The richer and more powerful we become, the bigger the subsidy.

    Subsidies are very hard to end. Ask any politician or economist. So I thank everyone who supports carbon taxes and other clean energy policies, like Tom Friedman in his Sunday NYT op ed).

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Subsidies – until the money runs out and govts are at their wits end – cheers Gail, ME

    • Mark E says:

      “We” suffer a cost, not a subsidy, in the form of a gigantic negative “externality” (an economics term of art).

      What you meant to say, I’m sure, is that for the short term a small fraction of the human race are telling themselves this civilization-busting threat to food supplies is a ‘subsidy’. Ask a teen tripping on their first crystal meth ride if its great and they will tell you pretty much the same thing…..at least, for now.

  23. Endofmore says:

    Everybody agreeing on the disaster of climate change, blaming Obama and insisting that our wheeled society must carry on into infinity