In big energy speech today, Obama refuses to tell Americans which party has blocked fuel economy standards and demanded deep cuts in clean energy

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"In big energy speech today, Obama refuses to tell Americans which party has blocked fuel economy standards and demanded deep cuts in clean energy"

President calls for 1/3 cut in oil imports by 2025 — but we’re already most of the way there!

UPDATE:  Obama went off of his prepared remarks to point out that we haven’t increased fuel economy standards in 30 years — but the President never bothers to explain to the public that’s because Republicans opposed such increases!  And so it looks like he is saying both parties are equally culpable and equally incompetent.  Is it any wonder so much of the public agrees.

His speech also says, “some want to cut these critical investments in clean energy.  They want to cut our research and development into new technologies.”  But he never says who it is — Republicans, once again.  It’s like he’s playing college basketball and the GOP are in the NBA.

Just to be clear, if there is no political penalty for the GOP’s obstructive and destructive policies, they will never change — and all of Obama’s proposed policies will go nowhere.

President Obama is delivering today what is being billed as a very big speech on “energy security.”  You can watch it live around 11:20 am here.

UPDATE:  Obama calls for a one-third cut in oil imports by 2025 from 2008 levels of 11.1 million barrels a day.  But the EIA reports that net imports for have averaged 9.0 MBD for the first two months of 2011 — and 8.9 MBD over the last 6 months (h/t Oildrum)   We only need to hit 7.4 to achieve Obama’s goal!

I propose the following drinking game:

  1. The first time the President uses the phrase “climate change” or “global warming,” down the drink of your choice.
  2. The second time, empty out the liquor cabinet.
  3. The third time, it’s a weekend in Las Vegas with Charlie Sheen (or Chelsea Handler).

OK, perhaps this is best called a sobriety game, if this is anything like his State of the Union Address (see Obama calls for massive boost in low-carbon energy, but doesn’t mention carbon, climate or warming).

UPDATE 2:  Obama threw in a few extra “climate change” mentions, but one of them negated another — “So those of us who are concerned about climate change, we’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question” – could that possibly be blander?  How about explaining to the public why everyone should be concerned?  And how about something stronger than “question”?   Still, it is Charlie Sheen time.  But not in a good way.

Of course, like the speech, the fact sheet that the White House released this morning ahead of the speech leads with expanded production of fossil fuels:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FACT SHEET: America’s Energy Security

Rising prices at the pump affect everybody – workers and farmers; truck drivers and restaurant owners.  Businesses see it impact their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  For Americans already struggling to get by, it makes life that much harder.  That’s why we need to make ourselves more secure and control our energy future by harnessing all of the resources that we have available and embracing a diverse energy portfolio. With an ultimate goal of reducing our dependence on oil, in the near term we must responsibly develop and produce oil and gas at home, while at the same time leveraging cleaner, alternative fuels and increasing efficiency.  And beyond our efforts to reduce our dependence on oil, we must focus on expanding cleaner sources of electricitykeeping America on the cutting edge of clean energy technology so that we can build a 21st century clean energy economy and win the future.

Reducing oil imports

In 2008, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day.  By 2025 – a little over a decade from now – we will have cut that by one-third.

  • Expanding Safe and Responsible Domestic Oil and Gas Development and Production:

o   Implementing critical safety reforms: In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama Administration has launched rigorous and comprehensive environmental and safety reforms to ensure the responsible development of offshore oil and gas resources.

o   Identifying underdeveloped resources: The President asked the Department of the Interior (DOI) to issue a report on the status of unused oil and gas leases.  That report showed that 57 percent of all leased onshore acres and 70 percent of offshore leased acres are inactive – meaning that they are neither being explored or developed.

o   Developing incentives for expedited development and production: DOI is developing incentives for expedited development of oil and gas production from existing and future leases.  For its offshore leasing program, the DOI has already begun to employ incentives, including the shortening of some lease terms to encourage earlier development, and requiring drilling to begin before an extension can be granted on a lease.  DOI is also evaluating the potential use of graduated royalty rate structures, such as those adopted by the State of Texas, to encourage more rapid production.

  • Securing Access to Diverse and Reliable Sources of Energy: The U.S. is acting in the international arena to moderate global oil demand and secure additional supplies of liquid fuels and clean energy.  We are working with our international partners to increase natural gas supplies, replace oil with natural gas in power generation, and increase responsible oil production in a manner that ensures safety .  We are also increasing sustainable bioenergy production, building a new international framework for nuclear energy, and promoting energy efficiency.

  • Developing Alternatives to Oil, Including Biofuels and Natural Gas: Some of our most effective opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard.  We are committed to finding better and smarter ways to use these abundant energy resources. That means:

o   Expanding biofuels markets and commercializing new biofuels technologies: Corn ethanol is already making a significant contribution to reducing our oil dependence, but increasing market share will require overcoming infrastructure challenges and commercializing promising cellulosic and advanced biofuels technologies.  To help achieve this goal, the Administration has set a goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial-scale cellulosic or advanced bio-refineries over the next two years. And as we do all of these things, we will look for ways to reform our biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today’s biofuels challenges and save taxpayers money.

o   Encouraging responsible development practices for natural gas: The Administration is committed to the use of this important domestic resource, but we must ensure it is developed safely and responsibly. To that end the Administration is focused on increasing transparency about the use of fracking chemicals, working with state regulators to offer technical assistance, and launching a new initiative to tap experts in industry, the environmental community and states to develop recommendations for shale extraction practices that will ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

  • Cutting Costs at the Pump with More Efficient Cars and Trucks: The Administration is building on recent investments in advanced vehicles, fuel, technologies, high speed rail, and public transit:

o   Setting historic new fuel economy standards: Standards for model years 2012-16 will raise average fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, and save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles covered. In July, the Administration will also finalize the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 – 2018.  These standards will cut oil use and promote the development and deployment of alternative fuels, including natural gas.  The Administration is also developing the next generation of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles 2017-2025 and expects to announce the proposal in September 2011.

o   Paving the way for advanced vehicles: The President has set an ambitious goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.  To help us get there, the President’s FY 2012 Budget proposes a redesigned $7500 tax credit for consumers, competitive grants for communities that encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, and funding for R&D to drive innovation in advanced battery technology.  At the same time, the President is calling on Congress to move forward with policies that can help unlock the promise of natural gas vehicles.

  • Leading by Example With the Federal Fleet. The Federal government operates more than 600,000 fleet vehicles.   We have already doubled the number of hybrid vehicles in the federal fleet.  Today, the President is calling for administrative action directing agencies to ensure that by 2015, all new vehicles they purchase will be alternative-fuel vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

Innovating Our Way to a Clean Energy Future

Charting a path  towards cleaner sources of electricity and greater energy efficiency, and remaining on the cutting edge of clean energy technology.

  • Creating Markets for Clean Energy: To move capital off of the sidelines and into the clean energy economy – creating jobs in the process – we need to give businesses and entrepreneurs a clear signal that there will be a market for clean energy innovation.  That’s why the Administration is committed to pursuing a Clean Energy Standard (CES), an ambitious but achievable goal of generating 80 percent of the Nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 – including renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower; nuclear power; efficient natural gas; and clean coal.
  • Cutting Energy Bills through More Efficient Homes and Buildings: Our homes, businesses and factories consume over 70 percent of the energy we use.  By making smart investments in energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, we can improve U.S. competitiveness and protect our environment, while saving consumers money on electricity bills.  That is why the Administration is on track to weatherize 600,000 low-income homes through Recovery Act investments, and why we remain committed to a series of policies that increase efficiency across sectors – including a HOMESTAR program to help homeowners finance retrofits, a “Better Buildings Initiative” to make commercial facilities 20 percent more efficient by 2020, and steps to promote industrial energy efficiency.
  • Staying on the Cutting Edge through Clean Energy Research and Development: Through the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, we have invested in over 100 cutting-edge projects in areas ranging from smart grid technology, to carbon capture, to battery technology for electric vehicles. Past Budgets funded three “Energy Innovation Hubs” that explore building efficiency, fuel from sunlight, and nuclear reactor modeling and simulation.  The FY 2012 Budget request more than doubles funding for ARPA-E and doubles the number of Hubs to include new Hubs that will advance smart grid technology, critical materials research, as well as batteries and energy storage.

###

Absent a climate crisis, this would be great stuff.  But on planet Eaarth, it can’t possibly deliver Americans genuine security since it ignores the biggest threat to the health and well-being of Americans.  That is especially true coming on the heels of last week’s decision to expand coal production.

Since Obama has already set the historic fuel economy standards, the CES is crucial.  That said, the inclusion of natural gas and the undefined “clean coal” makes it difficult if not impossible to translate his CES into CO2 reductions.

Finally, if Obama is serious about the R&D push, then he is going to have to issue a veto threat over any bill that cuts clean energy R&D (not just ARPA-E) — and then carry through with the threat.  Since he seems unwilling to do so, the final bullet point above is all but meaningless.

Here’s the speech:

As Actually Delivered:

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat. It is wonderful to be back at Georgetown.  (Applause.)

We’ve got a number of acknowledgements.  First of all, I just want to thank President DeGioia for his outstanding leadership here, but also for his hospitality.

We also have here Secretary Steven Chu, my Energy Secretary. Where is Steven?  There he is over there.  (Applause.)  Secretary Ken Salazar of the Interior Department.  (Applause.)  Secretary Tom Vilsack, our Agriculture Secretary.  (Applause.)  Ray LaHood, our Transportation Secretary.  (Applause.)  Lisa Jackson, our EPA Administrator.  (Applause.)  Nancy Sutley, who is our Council on Environmental Quality director, right here.  (Applause.)

A couple of great members of Congress — Congressman Jay Inslee of Washington.  Where’s Jay?  There he is over there.  (Applause.)  And Rush Holt of New Jersey is here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got — he didn’t bring the weather with him — but the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, is in the house.  (Applause.)  Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Arizona, is here.  (Applause.)

And most importantly, the students of Georgetown University are in the house.  (Applause.)

I want to start with a difficult subject:  The Hoyas had a tough loss, Coach.  (Laughter.)  Coach is here, too, and I love Coach Thompson.  I love his dad and the great tradition that they’ve had.  (Applause.)  And it turned out VCU was pretty good. (Laughter.)  I had Georgetown winning that game in my bracket, so we’re all hurting here.  (Laughter.)  But that’s what next year is for.

We meet here at a tumultuous time for the world.  In a matter of months, we’ve seen regimes toppled.  We’ve seen democracy take root in North Africa and in the Middle East.  We’ve witnessed a terrible earthquake, a catastrophic tsunami, a nuclear emergency that has battered one of our strongest allies and closest friends in the world’s third-largest economy.  We’ve led an international effort in Libya to prevent a massacre and maintain stability throughout the broader region.  (Applause.)

And as Americans, we’re heartbroken by the lives that have been lost as a result of these events.  We’re deeply moved by the thirst for freedom in so many nations, and we’re moved by the strength and the perseverance of the Japanese people.  And it’s natural, I think, to feel anxious about what all of this means for us.

And one big area of concern has been the cost and security of our energy.  Obviously, the situation in the Middle East implicates our energy security.  The situation in Japan leads us to ask questions about our energy sources.

In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody — workers, farmers, truck drivers, restaurant owners, students who are lucky enough to have a car.  (Laughter.)  Businesses see rising prices at the pump hurt their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  And for Americans that are already struggling to get by, a hike in gas prices really makes their lives that much harder.  It hurts.

If you’re somebody who works in a relatively low-wage job and you’ve got to commute to work, it takes up a big chunk of your income.  You may not be able to buy as many groceries.  You may have to cut back on medicines in order to fill up the gas tank.  So this is something that everybody is affected by.

Now, here’s the thing — we have been down this road before. Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon.  I remember because I was in the middle of a presidential campaign.  Working folks certainly remember because it hit a lot of people pretty hard.  And because we were at the height of political season, you had all kinds of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians — they were waving their three-point plans for $2 a gallon gas.  You remember that — “drill, baby, drill”
– and we were going through all that.  (Laughter.)  And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.  There was a lot of hue and cry, a lot of fulminating and hand-wringing, but nothing actually happened.  Imagine that in Washington.  (Laughter.)

The truth is, none of these gimmicks, none of these slogans made a bit of difference.  When gas prices finally did fall, it was mostly because the global recession had led to less demand for oil.  Companies were producing less; the demand for petroleum went down; prices went down.  Now that the economy is recovering, demand is back up.  Add the turmoil in the Middle East, and it’s not surprising that oil prices are higher.  And every time the price of a barrel of oil on the world market rises by $10, a gallon of gas goes up by about 25 cents.

The point is the ups and downs in gas prices historically have tended to be temporary.  But when you look at the long-term trends, there are going to be more ups in gas prices than downs in gas prices.  And that’s because you’ve got countries like India and China that are growing at a rapid clip, and as 2 billion more people start consuming more goods — they want cars just like we’ve got cars; they want to use energy to make their lives a little easier just like we’ve got — it is absolutely certain that demand will go up a lot faster than supply.  It’s just a fact.

So here’s the bottom line:  There are no quick fixes.  Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t telling you the truth.  And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we finally get serious about a long-term policy for a secure, affordable energy future.

We’re going to have to think long term, which is why I came here, to talk to young people here at Georgetown, because you have more of a stake in us getting our energy policy right than just about anybody.

Now, here’s a source of concern, though.  We’ve known about the dangers of our oil dependence for decades.  Richard Nixon talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.  And every President since that time has talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.  Politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet.

I talked about reducing America’s dependence on oil when I was running for President, and I’m proud of the historic progress that we’ve made over the last two years towards that goal, and we’ll talk about that a little bit.  But I’ve got to be honest.  We’ve run into the same political gridlock, the same inertia that has held us back for decades.

That has to change.  That has to change.  We cannot keep going from shock when gas prices go up to trance when they go back down — we go back to doing the same things we’ve been doing until the next time there’s a price spike, and then we’re shocked again.  We can’t rush to propose action when gas prices are high and then hit the snooze button when they fall again.  We can’t keep on doing that.

The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground.  We can’t afford it when the costs to our economy, our country, and our planet are so high.  Not when your generation needs us to get this right.  It’s time to do what we can to secure our energy future.

And today, I want to announce a new goal, one that is reasonable, one that is achievable, and one that is necessary.
When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day.  By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.  That is something that we can achieve.  (Applause.)  We can cut our oil dependence — we can cut our oil dependence by a third.

I set this goal knowing that we’re still going to have to import some oil.  It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time, until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force.  And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources.  We also have to look at other countries like Brazil.  Part of the reason I went down there is to talk about energy with the Brazilians.  They recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and we can share American technology and know-how with them as they develop these resources.

But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard — because we boast one critical, renewable resource that the rest of the world can’t match:  American ingenuity.  American ingenuity, American know-how.

To make ourselves more secure, to control our energy future, we’re going to have to harness all of that ingenuity.  It’s a task we won’t be finished with by the end of my presidency, or even by the end of the next presidency.  But if we continue the work that we’ve already begun over the last two years, we won’t just spark new jobs, industries and innovations — we will leave your generation and future generations with a country that is safer, that is healthier, and that’s more prosperous.

So today, my administration is releasing a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that outlines a comprehensive national energy policy, one that we’ve been pursuing since the day I took office.  And cutting our oil dependence by a third is part of that plan.

Here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we can achieve these goals.

Now, meeting the goal of cutting our oil dependence depends largely on two things:  first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.

This begins by continuing to increase America’s oil supply. Even for those of you who are interested in seeing a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels — and I know how passionate young people are about issues like climate change — the fact of the matter is, is that for quite some time, America is going to be still dependent on oil in making its economy work.

Now, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.  And for the first time in more than a decade, oil we imported accounted for less than half of the liquid fuel we consumed.  So that was a good trend.  To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production — as long as it’s safe and responsible.

I don’t think anybody here has forgotten what happened last year, where we had to deal with the largest oil spill in [our] history. I know some of the fishermen down in the Gulf Coast haven’t forgotten it.  And what we learned from that disaster helped us put in place smarter standards of safety and responsibility.  For example, if you’re going to drill in deepwater, you’ve got to prove before you start drilling that you can actually contain an underwater spill.  That’s just common sense.  And lately, we’ve been hearing folks saying, well, the Obama administration, they put restrictions on how oil companies operate offshore.  Well, yes, because we just spent all that time, energy and money trying to clean up a big mess.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have amnesia.  I remember these things.  (Laughter.)  And I think it was important for us to make sure that we prevent something like that from happening again.  (Applause.)

Now, today, we’re working to expedite new drilling permits for companies that meet these higher standards.  Since they were put in, we’ve approved 39 new shallow-water permits; we’ve approved seven deepwater permits in recent weeks.  When it comes to drilling offshore, my administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well that the industry started to drill.  So any claim that my administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve “shut down” oil production, any claim like that is simply untrue.  It might make for a useful sound bite, but it doesn’t track with reality.

What is true is we’ve said if you’re going to drill offshore you’ve got to have a plan to make sure that we don’t have the kind of catastrophe that we had last year.  And I don’t think that there’s anybody who should dispute that that’s the right strategy to pursue.

Moreover, we’re actually pushing the oil industry to take advantage of the opportunities that they’ve already got.  Right now the industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where they’re not producing a single drop.  They’re just sitting on supplies of American energy that are ready to be tapped.  That’s why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives that promote rapid, responsible development of these resources.

We’re also exploring and assessing new frontiers for oil and gas development from Alaska to the Mid- and South Atlantic states, because producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, can help create jobs, and can enhance our energy security, but we’ve got to do it in the right way.

Now, even if we increase domestic oil production, that is not going to be the long-term solution to our energy challenge.  I give out this statistic all the time, and forgive me for repeating it again:  America holds about 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.  What that means is, is that even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every single one of the reserves that we possess — offshore and onshore — it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs.  We consume about 25 percent of the world’s oil.  We only have 2 percent of the reserves.  Even if we doubled U.S. oil production, we’re still really short.
So the only way for America’s energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil.  We’re going to have to find ways to boost our efficiency so we use less oil.  We’ve got to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy that also produce less carbon pollution, which is threatening our climate.  And we’ve got to do it quickly.

Now, in terms of new sources of energy, we have a few different options.  The first is natural gas.  Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves — perhaps a century’s worth of reserves, a hundred years worth of reserves — in the shale under our feet.  But just as is true in terms of us extracting oil from the ground, we’ve got to make sure that we’re extracting natural gas safely, without polluting our water supply.

That’s why I’ve asked Secretary Chu, my Energy Secretary, to work with other agencies, the natural gas industry, states, and environmental experts to improve the safety of this process.  And Chu is the right guy to do this.  He’s got a Nobel Prize in physics.  He actually deserved his Nobel Prize.  (Laughter and applause.)  And this is the kind of thing that he likes to do for fun on the weekend.  (Laughter.)  He goes into his garage and he tinkers around and figures out how to extract natural gas.  (Laughter.)

I’m going to embarrass him further.  (Laughter.)  Last year, when we were trying to fill — figure out how to close the cap, I sent Chu down to sit in the BP offices, and he essentially designed the cap that ultimately worked, and he drew up the specs for it and had BP build it, construct it.  So this is somebody who knows what he’s doing.  (Applause.)  So for those of you who are studying physics, it may actually pay off someday.  (Laughter.)

But the potential for natural gas is enormous.  And this is an area where there’s actually been some broad bipartisan agreement.  Last year, more than 150 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle produced legislation providing incentives to use clean-burning natural gas in our vehicles instead of oil. And that’s a big deal.  Getting 150 members of Congress to agree on anything is a big deal.  And they were even joined by T. Boone Pickens, a businessman who made his fortune on oil, but who is out there making the simple point that we can’t simply drill our way out of our energy problems.

So I ask members of Congress and all the interested parties involved to keep at it, pass a bill that helps us achieve the goal of extracting natural gas in a safe, environmentally sound way.

Now, another substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels — not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass and wood chips and biomass.

If anybody doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil.  As I said, I was just there last week.  Half of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels — half of their fleet of automobiles can run on biofuels instead of petroleum.  Just last week, our Air Force — our own Air Force — used an advanced biofuel blend to fly a Raptor 22 — an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound.  Think about that.  I mean, if an F-22 Raptor can fly at the speed of — faster than the speed of sound on biomass, then I know the old beater that you’ve got, that you’re driving around in — (laughter) — can probably do so, too.  There’s no reason why we can’t have our cars do the same.

In fact, the Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016.  And I’m directing the Navy and the Department of Energy and Agriculture to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power not just fighter jets, but also trucks and commercial airliners.

So there’s no reason we shouldn’t be using these renewable fuels throughout America.  And that’s why we’re investing in things like fueling stations and research into the next generation of biofuels.  One of the biggest problems we have with alternative energy is not just producing the energy, but also distributing it.  We’ve got gas stations all around the country, so whenever you need gas you know you can fill up — it doesn’t matter where you are.  Well, we’ve got to have that same kind of distribution network when it comes to our renewable energy sources so that when you are converting to a different kind of car that runs on a different kind of energy, you’re going to be able to have that same convenience.  Otherwise, the market won’t work; it won’t grow.

Over the next two years, we’ll help entrepreneurs break ground for four next-generation biorefineries — each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year.  And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure that they’re meeting today’s challenges and that they’re also saving taxpayers money.

So as we replace oil with fuels like natural gas and biofuels, we can also reduce our dependence by making cars and trucks that use less oil in the first place.  Seventy percent of our petroleum consumption goes to transportation — 70 percent.  And by the way, so does the second biggest chunk of most families’ budgets goes into transportation.  And that’s why one of the best ways to make our economy less dependent on oil and save folks more money is to make our transportation sector more efficient.

Now, we went through 30 years where we didn’t raise fuel efficiency standards on cars.  And part of what happened in the U.S. auto industry was because oil appeared relatively cheap, the U.S. auto industry decided we’re just going to make our money on SUVs, and we’re not going to worry about fuel efficiency.  Thirty years of lost time when it comes to technology that could improve the efficiency of cars.

So last year, we established a groundbreaking national fuel efficiency standard for cars and trucks.  We did this last year without legislation.  We just got all the parties together and we got them to agree — automakers, autoworkers, environmental groups, industry.

So that means our cars will be getting better gas mileage, saving 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program — 1.8 billion.  Our consumers will save money from fewer trips to the pump — $3,000 on average over time you will save because of these higher fuel efficiency standards.  And our automakers will build more innovative products.  Right now, there are even cars rolling off the assembly lines in Detroit with combustion engines — I’m not talking about hybrids — combustion engines that get more than 50 miles per gallon.  So we know how to do it.  We know how to make our cars more efficient.

But going forward, we’re going to continue to work with the automakers, with the autoworkers, with states, to ensure the high-quality, fuel-efficient cars and trucks of tomorrow are built right here in the United States of America.  That’s going to be a top priority for us.  (Applause.)

This summer, we’re going to propose the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks.  And this fall, we’ll announce the next round of fuel standards for cars that builds on what we’ve already done.

And by the way, the federal government is going to need to lead by example.  The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country.  We’ve got a lot of cars.  And that’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet.  And that’s why today I am directing agencies to purchase 100 percent alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015.  All of them should be alternative fuel.  (Applause.)

Going forward, we’ll partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets.  And this means, by the way, that you students, as consumers or future consumers of cars, you’ve got to make sure that you are boosting demand for alternative vehicles.  You’re going to have a responsibility as well, because if alternative-fuel vehicles are manufactured but you guys aren’t buying them, then folks will keep on making cars that don’t have the same fuel efficiency.  So you’ve got power in this process, and the decisions you make individually in your lives will say something about how serious we are when it comes to energy independence.

We’ve also made historic investments in high-speed rail and mass transit, because part of making our transportation sector cleaner and more efficient involves offering all Americans, whether they are urban, suburban, or rural, the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas.

Still, there are few breakthroughs as promising for increasing fuel efficiency and reducing our dependence on oil as electric vehicles.  Soon after I took office, I set a goal of having one million electric vehicles on our roads by 2015.  We’ve created incentives for American companies to develop these vehicles, and for Americans who want them to buy them.

So new manufacturing plants are opening over the next few years.  And a modest $2 billion investment in competitive grants for companies to develop the next generation of batteries for these cars has jumpstarted a big new American industry.  Pretty soon, America will be home to 40 percent of global manufacturing capacity for these advanced batteries.

And for those of you who are wondering what that means, the thing that’s been holding back electric vehicles is the battery that stores that electricity, that energy.  And the more efficient, the more lightweight we can make those batteries, the easier it is to manufacture those cars at a competitive price.

And if we can have that industry here in the United States of America, that means jobs.  If those batteries are made here, the cars are made here.  Those cars are made here, we’re putting Americans back to work.

Now, to make sure we stay on this goal we’re going to need to do more — by offering more powerful incentives to consumers, and by rewarding the communities that pave the way for the adoption of these vehicles.

Now, one other thing about electric cars — and you don’t need to talk to Chu about this — it turns out electric cars run on electricity.  (Laughter.)  And so even if we reduce our oil dependency, and we’re producing all these great electric cars, we’re going to have to have a plan to change the way we generate electricity in America so that it’s cleaner and safer and healthier.  We know that ushering in a clean energy economy has the potential of creating untold numbers of new jobs and new businesses right here in the United States.  But we’re going to have to think about how do we produce electricity more efficiently.

Now, in addition to producing it, we actually also have to think about making sure we’re not wasting energy.  I don’t know how we’re doing on the Georgetown campus, Mr. President, but every institution and every household has to start thinking about how are we reducing the amount of energy that we’re using and doing it in more efficient ways.

Today, our homes and businesses consume 40 percent of the energy that we use, and it costs us billions of dollars in energy bills.  Manufacturers that require large amounts of energy to make their products, they’re challenged by rising energy costs.  And so you can’t separate the issue of oil dependence from the issue of how we are producing generally — more energy generally.

And that’s why we’ve proposed new programs to help Americans upgrade their homes and businesses and plants with new, energy-efficient building materials — new lighting, new windows, new heating and cooling systems — investments that will save consumers and business owners tens of billions of dollars a year, and free up money for investment and hiring and creating new jobs and hiring more workers and putting contractors to work as well.

The nice thing about energy efficiency is we already have the technology.  We don’t have to create something new.  We just have to help businesses and homeowners put in place the installation, the energy-efficient windows, the energy-efficient lighting.  They’ll get their money back.  You will save money on your electricity bill that pays for those improvements that you made, but a lot of people may not have the money up front, and so we’ve got to give them some incentives to do that.

And just like the fuels we use in our cars, we’re going to have to find cleaner renewable sources of electricity.  Today, about two-fifths of our electricity come from clean energy sources.  But we can do better than that.  I think that with the right incentives in place, we can double our use of clean energy. And that’s why, in my State of the Union address back in January, I called for a new Clean Energy Standard for America:  By 2035, 80 percent of our electricity needs to come from a wide range of clean energy sources — renewables like wind and solar, efficient natural gas.  And, yes, we’re going to have to examine how do we make clean coal and nuclear power work.

Now, in light of the ongoing events in Japan, I want to just take a minute to talk about nuclear power.  Right now, America gets about one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear energy.  And it’s important to recognize that nuclear energy doesn’t emit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  So those of us who are concerned about climate change, we’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question.

And I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe.  So in light of what’s happened in Japan, I’ve requested a comprehensive safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make sure that all of our existing nuclear energy facilities are safe.  And we’re going incorporate those conclusions and lessons from Japan in design and the building of the next generation of plants.  But we can’t simply take it off the table.

My administration is leading global discussions towards a new international framework in which all countries who are operating nuclear plants are making sure that they’re not spreading dangerous nuclear materials and technology.

But more broadly, a clean energy standard can expand the scope of clean energy investments because what it does is it gives cutting-edge companies the certainty that they need to invest.  Essentially what it does is it says to companies, you know what, you will have a customer if you’re producing clean energy.  Utilities, they need to buy a certain amount of clean energy in their overall portfolio, and that means that innovators are willing to make those big capital investments.

And we’ve got to start now because — think about this — in the 1980s, America was home to more than 80 percent of the world’s wind capacity, 90 percent of the world’s solar capacity. We were the leaders in wind.  We were the leaders in solar.  We owned the clean energy economy in the ’80s.  Guess what.  Today, China has the most wind capacity.  Germany has the most solar capacity.  Both invest more in clean energy than we do, even though we are a larger economy and a substantially larger user of energy.  We’ve fallen behind on what is going to be the key to our future.

Other countries are now exporting technology we pioneered and they’re going after the jobs that come with it because they know that the countries that lead the 21st century clean energy economy will be the countries that lead the 21st century global economy.

I want America to be that nation.  I want America to win the future.  (Applause.)

So a clean energy standard will help drive private investment in innovation.  But I want to make this point:  Government funding will still be critical.  Over the past two years, the historic investments my administration has made in clean and renewable energy research and technology have helped private sector companies grow and hire hundreds of thousands of new workers.

I’ve visited gleaming new solar arrays that are among the largest in the world.  I’ve tested an electric vehicle fresh off the assembly line.  I mean, I didn’t really test it — I was able to drive like five feet before Secret Service said to stop.  (Laughter.)  I’ve toured factories that used to be shuttered, where they’re now building advanced wind blades that are as long as 747s, and they’re building the towers that support them.  And I’ve seen the scientists that are searching for the next big breakthrough in energy.  None of this would have happened without government support.

I understand we’ve got a tight fiscal situation, so it’s fair to ask how do we pay for government’s investment in energy. And as we debate our national priorities and our budget in Congress, we’re going to have to make some tough choices.  We’re going to have to cut what we don’t need to invest in what we do need.

Unfortunately, some folks want to cut critical investments in clean energy.  They want to cut our research and development into new technologies.  They’re shortchanging the resources necessary even to promptly issue new permits for offshore drilling.  These cuts would eliminate thousands of private sector jobs; it would terminate scientists and engineers; it would end fellowships for researchers, some who may be here at Georgetown, graduate students and other talent that we desperately need to get into this area in the 21st century.  That doesn’t make sense.

We’re already paying a price for our inaction.  Every time we fill up at the pump, every time we lose a job or a business to countries that are investing more than we do in clean energy, when it comes to our air, our water, and the climate change that threatens the planet that you will inherit — we’re already paying a price.  These are costs that we are already bearing.  And if we do nothing, the price will only go up.

So at moments like these, sacrificing these investments in research and development, in supporting clean energy technologies, that would weaken our energy economy and make us more dependent on oil.  That’s not a game plan to win the future. That’s a vision to keep us mired in the past.  I will not accept that outcome for the United States of America.  We are not going to do that.  (Applause.)

Let me close by speaking directly to the students here — the next generation who are going to be writing the next great chapter in the American story.  The issue of energy independence is one that America has been talking about since before your parents were your age, since before you were born.  And you also happen to go to a school [in a town] that for a long time has suffered from a chronic unwillingness to come together and make tough choices.  And so I forgive you for thinking that maybe there isn’t much we can do to rise to this challenge.  Maybe some of you are feeling kind of cynical or skeptical about whether we’re actually going to solve this problem.  But everything I have seen and experienced with your generation convinces me otherwise.

I think that precisely because you are coming of age at a time of such rapid and sometimes unsettling change, born into a world with fewer walls, educated in an era of constant information, tempered by war and economic turmoil — because that’s the world in which you’re coming of age, I think you believe as deeply as any of our previous generations that America can change and it can change for the better.

We need that.  We need you to dream big.  We need you to summon that same spirit of unbridled optimism and that bold willingness to tackle tough challenges and see those challenges through that led previous generations to rise to greatness — to save a democracy, to touch the moon, to connect the world with our own science and our own imagination.

That’s what America is capable of.  That’s what you have to push America to do, and it will be you that pushes it.  That history of ours, of meeting challenges — that’s your birthright. You understand that there’s no problem out there that is not within our power to solve.

I don’t want to leave this challenge for future Presidents. I don’t want to leave it for my children.  I don’t want to leave it for your children.  So, yes, solving it will take time and it will take effort.  It will require our brightest scientists, our most creative companies.  It will require all of us — Democrats, Republicans, and everybody in between — to do our part.  But with confidence in America and in ourselves and in one another, I know this is a challenge that we will solve.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And now the written text:

As Prepared for Delivery””

We meet here at a tumultuous time for the world.  In a matter of months, we’ve seen regimes toppled and democracy take root across North Africa and the Middle East.  We’ve witnessed a terrible earthquake, catastrophic tsunami and nuclear emergency batter a strong ally and the world’s third largest economy.  And we’ve led an international effort in Libya to prevent a massacre and maintain stability throughout the broader region.

As Americans, we are heartbroken by the lives that have been lost as a result of these events. We are moved by the thirst for freedom in many nations, as well as the strength and perseverance of the Japanese people. And of course, it’s natural to feel anxious about what all this means for us.

One area of particular concern has been the cost and security of our energy.  In an economy that relies on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody – workers and farmers; truck drivers and restaurant owners.  Businesses see it hurt their bottom line.  Families feel the pinch when they fill up their tank.  For Americans already struggling to get by, it makes life that much harder.

But here’s the thing – we’ve been down this road before.  Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 a gallon.  Working folks haven’t forgotten that.  It hit a lot of people pretty hard.  But it was also the height of political season, so you had a lot of slogans and gimmicks and outraged politicians waving three-point-plans for two-dollar gas – when none of it would really do anything to solve the problem.  Imagine that in Washington.

The truth is, of course, was that all these gimmicks didn’t make a bit of difference.  When gas prices finally fell, it was mostly because the global recession led to less demand for oil.  Now that the economy is recovering, demand is back up.  Add the turmoil in the Middle East, and it’s not surprising oil prices are higher.  And every time the price of a barrel of oil on the world market rises by $10, a gallon of gas goes up by about 25 cents.

The point is, the ups and downs in gas prices are usually temporary.  When you look at the long-term trends, though, there will be more ups than downs.  That’s because countries like India and China are growing at a rapid clip.  And as two billion more people start consuming more goods, and driving more cars, and using more energy, it’s certain that demand will go up a lot faster than supply.

So here’s the bottom line – there are no quick fixes.  And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy.

We’ve known about the dangers of our oil dependence for decades.  Presidents and politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet.  I’ve pledged to reduce America’s dependence on oil too, and I’m proud of the historic progress we’ve made over the last two years towards that goal.  But we’ve also run into the same political gridlock and inertia that’s held us back for decades.

That has to change.

We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security, rushing to propose action when gas prices rise, then hitting the snooze button when they fall again.  The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity and security on a resource that will eventually run out.  Not anymore.  Not when the cost to our economy, our country, and our planet is so high.  Not when your generation needs us to get this right.

It is time to do what we can to secure our energy future.

So today, I’m setting a new goal: one that is reasonable, achievable, and necessary.  When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day.  By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third.

I set this goal knowing that imported oil will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time.  And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, we can partner with neighbors like Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, which recently discovered significant new oil reserves, and with whom we can share American technology and know-how.

But our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard.  And we boast one critical, renewable resource the rest of the world cannot match: American ingenuity.

To make ourselves more secure – to control our energy future – we will need to harness that ingenuity.  It is a task that won’t be finished by the end of my presidency, or even the next.  But if we continue the work that we have already begun over the last two years, we won’t just spark new jobs, industries and innovations; we will leave your generation and future generations a country that is safer, healthier, and more prosperous.

Today, my Administration is releasing a Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future that outlines the comprehensive national energy policy we’ve pursued since the day I took office.  And here at Georgetown, I’d like to talk in broad strokes about how we will secure that future.

Meeting this new goal of cutting our oil dependence depends largely on two things: finding and producing more oil at home, and reducing our dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.

This begins by continuing to increase America’s oil supply.  Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.  And for the first time in more than a decade, oil we imported accounted for less than half the liquid fuel we consumed.

To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my Administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production – as long as it’s safe and responsible. I don’t think anyone’s forgotten that we’re not even a year removed from the largest oil spill in our history.  I know the people of the Gulf Coast haven’t.  What we learned from that disaster helped us put in place smarter standards of safety and responsibility – for example, if you’re going to drill in deepwater, you’ve got to prove that you can actually contain an underwater spill.  That’s just common sense.

Today, we’re working to expedite new drilling permits for companies that meet these standards.  Since they were put in place, we’ve approved 39 new shallow water permits; and we’ve approved an additional 7 deepwater permits in recent weeks. When it comes to drilling onshore, my Administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well that the industry started to drill.  So any claim that my Administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve “shut down” oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality.

In fact, we are pushing the oil industry to take advantage of the opportunities they already have.  Right now, the industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where it’s not producing a drop – sitting on supplies of American energy just waiting to be tapped.  That’s why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives that promote rapid, responsible development of these resources.  We’re also exploring and assessing new frontiers for oil and gas development from Alaska to the Mid- and South Atlantic.  Because producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, create jobs, and enhance our energy security.

But let’s be honest – it’s not the long-term solution to our energy challenge.  America holds only about two percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.  And even if we drilled every drop of oil out of every one of those reserves, it still wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term needs.

All of this means one thing:  the only way for America’s energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil.  We have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil.  We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy with less of the carbon pollution that threatens our climate.  And we have to do it quickly.

In terms of new sources of energy, we have a few different options.  The first is natural gas.  As I mentioned earlier, recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves – perhaps a century’s worth – in the shale under our feet.  Now, we have to make sure we’re doing it safely, without polluting our water supply.  And that’s why I’m asking my Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, to work with other agencies, the natural gas industry, states, and environmental experts to improve the safety of this process.  I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s got a Nobel Prize for physics, after all.  He likes to tinker on this stuff in his garage on the weekend.

But the potential here is enormous.  It’s actually an area of broad bipartisan agreement.  Last year, more than 150 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle proposed legislation providing incentives to use clean-burning natural gas in our vehicles instead of oil.  They were even joined by T. Boone Pickens, a businessman who made his fortune on oil.  So I ask them to keep at it and pass a bill that helps us achieve this goal.

Another substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels – not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and biomass.

If anyone doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil.  Already, more than half – half – of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels.  And just last week, our Air Force used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound.  In fact, the Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016.  And I’m directing the Navy and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power not just fighter jets, but trucks and commercial airliners.

So there’s no reason we shouldn’t be using these renewable fuels throughout America.  That’s why we’re investing in things like fueling stations and research into the next generation of biofuels.  Over the next two years, we’ll help entrepreneurs break ground on four next-generation biorefineries – each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year. And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today’s challenges and save taxpayers money.

As we replace oil with fuels like natural gas and biofuels, we can also reduce our dependence by making cars and trucks that use less oil in the first place.  After all, 70 percent of our petroleum consumption goes to transportation.  And so does the second biggest chunk of most families’ budgets.  That’s why one of the best ways to make our economy less dependent on oil and save folks more money is simply to make our transportation more efficient.

Last year, we established a groundbreaking national fuel efficiency standard for cars and trucks.  Our cars will get better gas mileage, saving 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program.  Our consumers will save money from fewer trips to the pump – $3,000 on average over time.  And our automakers will build more innovative products.  Right now, there are even cars rolling off assembly lines in Detroit with combustion engines that can get more than 50 miles per gallon.

Going forward, we’ll continue working with automakers, autoworkers and states to ensure that the high-quality, fuel-efficient cars and trucks of tomorrow are built right here in America.  This summer, we’ll propose the first-ever fuel efficiency standard for heavy-duty trucks.  And this fall, we’ll announce the next round of fuel standards for cars that builds on what we’ve done.

To achieve our oil goal, the federal government will lead by example.  The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country.  That’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet, and that’s why, today, I am directing agencies to purchase 100% alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015.  And going forward, we’ll partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets.

We’ve also made historic investments in high-speed rail and mass transit, because part of making our transportation sector cleaner and more efficient involves offering Americans – urban, suburban, and rural – the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas.

Still, there are few breakthroughs as promising for increasing fuel efficiency and reducing our dependence on oil as electric vehicles.  Soon after I took office, I set a goal to have one million electric vehicles on our roads by 2015.  We’ve created incentives for American companies to develop these vehicles, and for Americans who want to buy them.  New manufacturing plants are opening over the next few years.  And a modest, $2 billion investment in competitive grants for companies to develop the next generation of batteries for these cars has jumpstarted a big new American industry.  Soon, America will be home to 40 percent of global manufacturing capacity for these batteries.  And that means jobs.  But to make sure we stay on the road to this goal, we need to do more – by offering more powerful incentives to consumers, and by rewarding the communities that pave the way for adoption of these vehicles.

Now, the thing about electric cars is that, well, they run on electricity.  And even if we reduce our oil dependency, a smart, comprehensive energy policy requires that we change the way we generate electricity in America – so that it’s cleaner, safer, and healthier.  And by the way – we also know that ushering in a clean energy economy has the potential to create an untold number of new jobs and new businesses – jobs that we want right here in America.

Part of this change comes from wasting less energy.  Today, our homes and businesses consume 40 percent of the energy we use, costing us billions in energy bills.  Manufacturers that require large amounts of energy to make their products are challenged by rising energy costs.  That’s why we’ve proposed new programs to help Americans upgrade their homes and businesses and plants with new, energy-efficient building materials like lighting, windows, heating and cooling – investments that will save consumers and business owners tens of billions of dollars a year, free up money for investment and hiring, and create jobs for workers and contractors.

And just like the fuels we use, we also have to find cleaner, renewable sources of electricity.  Today, about two-fifths of our electricity comes from clean energy sources.  But I know that we can do better than that.  In fact, I think that with the right incentives in place, we can double it.  That’s why, in my State of the Union Address, I called for a new Clean Energy Standard for America: by 2035, 80 percent of our electricity will come from an array of clean energy sources, from renewables like wind and solar to efficient natural gas to clean coal and nuclear power.

Now, in light of ongoing events in Japan, I want to say another word about nuclear power.  America gets one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear energy.   It has important potential for increasing our electricity without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  But I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe.  That’s why I’ve requested a comprehensive safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to make sure that all of our existing nuclear energy facilities are safe.  We’ll incorporate those conclusions and lessons from Japan in designing and building the next generation of plants. And my Administration is leading global discussions towards a new international framework in which all countries operate their nuclear plants without spreading dangerous nuclear materials and technology.

A Clean Energy Standard will broaden the scope of clean energy investment by giving cutting-edge companies the certainty they need to invest in America.  In the 1980s, America was home to more than 80 percent of the world’s wind capacity, and 90 percent of its solar capacity.  We owned the clean energy economy.  But today, China has the most wind capacity.  Germany has the most solar.  Both invest more than we do in clean energy.  Other countries are exporting technology we pioneered and chasing the jobs that come with it because they know that the countries that lead the 21st century clean energy economy will be the countries that lead the 21st century global economy.

I want America to be that nation.  I want America to win the future.

A Clean Energy Standard will help drive private investment.  But government funding will be critical too.  Over the past two years, the historic investments we’ve made in clean and renewable energy research and technology have helped private sector companies grow and hire hundreds of thousands of new workers.  I’ve visited gleaming new solar arrays among the largest in the world, tested an electric vehicle fresh off the assembly line, and toured once-shuttered factories where they’re building advanced wind blades as long as a 747 and the towers to support them.  I’ve seen the scientists searching for that next big energy breakthrough.  And none of this would have happened without government support.

Now, in light of our tight fiscal situation, it’s fair to ask how we’ll pay for all of it.  As we debate our national priorities and our budget in Congress, we have to make tough choices. We’ll have to cut what we don’t need to invest in what we do need.  Unfortunately, some want to cut these critical investments in clean energy.  They want to cut our research and development into new technologies.  They’re even shortchanging the resources necessary to promptly issue new permits for offshore drilling.  These cuts would eliminate thousands of private sector jobs, terminate scientists and engineers, and end fellowships for researchers, graduate students and other talent we desperately need for the 21st century.

See, we are already paying a price for our inaction.  Every time we fill up at the pump; every time we lose a job or a business to countries that invest more than we do in clean energy; when it comes to our air, our water, and the climate change that threatens the planet you’ll inherit – we are already paying that price. These are the costs we’re already bearing.  And if we do nothing, that price will only go up.

At a moment like this, sacrificing these investments would weaken our energy security and make us more dependent on oil, not less.  That’s not a game plan to win the future.  That’s a vision to keep us mired in the past.  And I will not accept that outcome for the United States of America.

I want to close by speaking directly to the people who will be writing America’s next great chapter – the students gathered here today.

The issue of energy independence is one that America has been talking about since before your parents were your age.  On top of that, you go to school in a town that, for a long time, has suffered from a chronic unwillingness to come together and make tough choices.  Because of all this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe there isn’t much we can do to rise to our challenges.

But everything I have seen and experienced with your generation convinces me otherwise. I believe it is precisely because you have come of age in a time of rapid and sometimes unsettling change – born into a world with fewer walls, educated in an era of information, tempered by war and economic turmoil – that you believe, as deeply as any of our generations, that America can change for the better.

We need that.  We need you to dream big.  We need you to summon that same spirit of unbridled optimism, that bold willingness to tackle tough challenges and see those challenges through that led previous generations to rise to greatness – to save democracy, to touch the moon, to connect the world with our own science and imagination.

That is what America is capable of.  And it is that very history that teaches us that all of our challenges – all of them – are within our power to solve.

I don’t want to leave this challenge for future presidents.  I don’t want to leave it for my children.  And I do not want to leave it for yours.  Solving it will take time and effort.  It will require our brightest scientists, our most creative companies, and, most importantly, all of us – Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between – to do our part.  But with confidence – in America, in ourselves, and in one another – I know it is a challenge we will solve.

Thank you.  God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America.

###

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70 Responses to In big energy speech today, Obama refuses to tell Americans which party has blocked fuel economy standards and demanded deep cuts in clean energy

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama’s embrace of fossil fuels is really unnerving, and will cause a lot of us to stay home for the 2012 election.

    We won’t learn how this all took place until an insider tells us what happened- that is, after he’s landed a book contract and a few years will have gone by. Unless maybe you know what the hell is going on, Joe.

  2. Jack Bone says:

    Hope & Change

    LOL @ Obama

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    No real action, to little. So what follows is retardation and collapse to all nations. And there will be no survivors no happy ends.

  4. with the doves says:

    Seems like we’ve almost reached the goal! Max import rate was 12,500 bpd – latest # is less than 10,000.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7733#comment-785501

    We can see the promised land from here ….

  5. Sasparilla says:

    Gotta love this – “That’s why the Administration is committed to pursuing a Clean Energy Standard (CES) goal of generating 80 percent of the Nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 – including…nuclear power; efficient natural gas; and clean coal.” That’s right! You get out there and lead Mr. President.

    Nuclear, Natural gas and clean coal? Moving forward with more ethanol? Lipstick on a pig? Sounds like we’re being led to business as usual. Getting off foreign oil is a primary goal in the speech and EV’s are barely mentioned…at least they were mentioned at all. Wind & Solar are only mentioned in passing as part of the CES standard and that’s it (and this is from our Democratic President).

    This sounds like the third act of the energy policy of the Bush administration (ethanol, nuclear, natural gas and “clean” coal were its big talking points as well. Ugh…

  6. jcwinnie says:

    Sorry, Joseph, only the last bullet point is meaningless?

    Also, how many are ominous from an AGW standpoint, not to mention Clean Air and Clean Water?

  7. Peter Bellin says:

    President Obama seems to be running for the next election, and not leading. I don’t plan to watch the speech, particularly based on these talking points.

    He seems to be ready to propose ‘incentives’ for the oil companies, as if their recent record profits were not incentive enough.

    HOWEVER: As weak and short-sighted these points are, I have no doubt that the Republican party would be much worse. I always vote, every election. Do not stay home, that only allows denialists more of a voice. Continue to be active, write and speak to your representatives, talk to your neighbors, lead by example. The future of the climate does depend on active participation, and the power of the vote remains strong, as dispiriting as things may seem now.

  8. Roger Blanchard says:

    One of those proposed cellulosic ethanol plants is planned for the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, not far from where I live. Here are some facts concerning the proposed facility:

    Output Energy versus Input Energy
    The 6 plant boilers (90-millionBTU/hour boilers running 24 hours/day) are projected to generate 4.7 billion megajoules per year of energy that will be used to make ethanol. The plant is projected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol/year, which has an energy content of 3.3 billion megajoules of energy. The boiler energy consumed in making ethanol is 1.43 times more than the energy content of the ethanol that they plan to produce. If the diesel fuel that Frontier projects to use for timber harvesting, wood processing and transportation of wood is included, the energy ratio increases to about 1.6.

    State/Federal Subsidies and Tax Waivers
    Frontier Renewable Resources has received a $20 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy is proposing to provide another $58.5 million.

    Along with government grants, low interest loans, and various subsidies, the project will receive $41 million in local property tax relief and another $19 million in state tax waivers over a 15 year period.

    Frontier is also seeking government help with road, water, and wastewater infrastructure as well as rail and utility construction.

    Projected Employment
    The proposed facility is projected to employ about 70 people permanently.

    The Available Resource
    While there have been studies which indicate that sufficient wood exists within the 150 mile radius of Kinross, there have been no specific studies which indicate that there is enough wood to supply this specific project and the existing wood processing industries.

    State and federal lands are at or close to their timber cutting limit so Frontier will rely on private landowners. If landowners in the U.S., within the 150 mile limit, aren’t interested in having their timber cut, Frontier will have to get the required pulpwood from Canada. Then Canadian workers, not American, will get paid for cutting and transporting feedstock to Frontier.

    Because Frontier will increase the demand for hardwood pulp, prices will rise. When other users of that commodity within the 150 mile radius see costs rise, jobs at those mills will be placed in jeopardy.
    If 70 or more permanent jobs are lost at other wood processors with the introduction of this project, have we gained anything?

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  9. dan allen says:

    The speech Obama needs to give: http://www.energybulletin.net/50370

    “Make no mistake – our journey forward will not be easy. Change of this magnitude will be a monumental task with no guarantee of success. There will be pain and suffering — our past excesses have guaranteed this. Our only hope is to minimize this suffering as much as possible while resolutely pursuing some sort of livable future for our children.”

    I’m crossing my fingers & holding my breath, Mr Hope&Change…

  10. BBHY says:

    Mike Roddy,

    Don’t stay home, vote Green Party.

  11. Bruce Turton says:

    So then, can I indulge in hot chocolate instead?
    The ethanol commitments only means more hunger elsewhere.
    The ‘fracking’, going on in Canada as well, with some reluctance in Quebec, is devastating fresh water supplies.
    Where are the commitments to efficiencies, to using less, to getting used to new realities?

  12. Mark S says:

    As someone who is very involved in the Democratic party, works in the trenches and struggles every two years with GOTV efforts I have to say it’s speeches like this I dread.

    All the people I talk to about clean energy as a reason to vote dem see a speech like this and don’t *think*, they *know* that Obama just doesn’t get it. Or if he does he isn’t willing to put political capital behind real reform and a truly important issue. Either way, it keeps people from voting for dems. And for down-ticket candidates. The trickle down is horrendous. Obama absolutely needs to step up to the plate on energy and propose something ambitious, difficult and morally defensible. Much like the speech the Australian PM gave last week. The amount of good it would do on so many levels is staggering to think about. And yet, he just blew his (latest) chance.

  13. OK, as a non-American who happens to have blogged a bit on a similar issue, I have to ask:

    WHY THE FLYING ████ DO AMERICANS SEEM SO OBSESSED WITH THE PRICE OF GASOLINE?

    I seriously don’t get it. Politicos don’t emphasize on the price of food, the price of water, phone bills, health and safety, etc. Instead, they like to talk about the price of gasoline. Gasoline gasoline gasoline. Gasoline this, gasoline that.

    Why? Is there nothing more important?

    First, is this real, this obsession with the price of gasoline? Is there a real concern among the general population with gas prices — above, well, pretty much everything else? If we do a survey ranking Americans’ concerns, will the price at the pump come up near the top?

    If it’s real, then why does this obsession even exist? I don’t get it. I need someone to explain it to me, to help me understand.

    frank

  14. Daniel Ives says:

    @ #10 BBHY
    I agree 100%. Spot on.

    Staying home is relinquishing the last bit of power the public has left. Voting Green or 3rd party sends a message to the Democrats that to earn our votes, they need to do better than being the lesser of two evils for a change.

  15. Richard Miller says:

    Roger,

    I give lectures at my university on climate and I wanted to incoroporate your info on the new ethanol plant.

    What is the source of your info? Can I get a link or other info,

    Thanks.

  16. @ #10 and @ #14

    How did the last time you voted for the Green Party work out for you?

    I was in Florida when Bush v. Gore came down on top of us.

    I think that it is better to get active with 350.org and personal lobbying of our representatives than to vote for people who will not get elected. Eventually, the events that we observe in the climate and climate science will ring true to more people than the politicians can ignore.

  17. mikev says:

    Looks like we’re all going to Vegas!

  18. Sasparilla says:

    #13 frank — Decoding SwiftHack – the obsession with gas prices (when they get high) is real and widespread when the prices get high enough. As to why I can give a few guesses.

    One is that our economy is built on people driving to get wherever they need to go (and often long distances) – its designed on the car and personal mobility (without a car you are out of luck for much of the US with regards to holding a job). There’s a reason we use more gasoline per person by far than anyone else (I think). As the price of oil climbs and gets high, it just vacuums all this disposable income out of our economy and if it goes on long enough will throw us into a recession. People seriously notice how much less money they have for other things when it goes up high enough (like the $4 a gallon a couple of years ago).

    As prices become high it becomes a drumbeat on the daily news from the economists telling us how damaging this is – you start hearing it all the time.

    This also probably affects this corner of the American psyche that is founded on an self view of ones freedom and the ability to do whatever one wants (with few consequences of course) – go wherever and whenever you want and a high price of oil and gasoline is a direct threat to that. Just some thoughts there.

  19. Bill W says:

    Frank, as mentioned above, gasoline is the second-highest monthly expense for most Americans, and the price is highly volatile. Because our fuel taxes are so much lower than the rest of the world, a change in the price of crude oil has a greater effect on the total price of gas. It’s also a price that’s visibly posted at every gas station, so we see it constantly. And thanks to our suburban sprawl, it’s not unusual for Americans to drive over 100 km each way to and from work.

  20. Roger Blanchard says:

    Richard (#15),

    The information about the boilers and diesel fuel are based upon data from the DOE’s Environmental Assessment which is here:

    http://www.eere.energy.gov/golden/PDFs/ReadingRoom/NEPA/1705/DOE-EA%201705%20Draft%20-%20Public%20Reading%20Room.pdf

    I made conversions into joules.

    Ethanol’s energy density can be found at various locations including my book, “The Future of Global Oil Production: Facts, Figure, Trends and Projections by Region”. That’s just a promotion.

    The DOE subsidy value is contained in the EA. The state subsidy is from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The tax waivers came from someone at the MEDC who is in the know.

    The EA goes into the wood supply.

    Roger

  21. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Kept hoping this was from the Onion.

  22. Daniel Ives says:

    @ #16 Terry

    “I think that it is better to get active with 350.org and personal lobbying of our representatives than to vote for people who will not get elected.”

    The last time I checked, 350.org (which I am involved in) had approximately zero influence on the Democratic party. That goes double for personal lobbying. How many policies that poll at over 70% have the Democrats failed to pass? Raise taxes for the top 2%, cutting oil subsidies, closing corporate tax loopholes, etc. all have strong public support, but also strong opposition from special interests, and guess whose side Obama and the Democrats are on? You need to face reality – the Democratic Party (with a few exceptions) will not fight for the issues progressives care about. So why should progressives give their votes to a party that doesn’t represent them, giving up all their power in the process? Obama is counting on progressives and liberals to do what they always do – complain and criticize him for caving in on their priorities, but then all fall in line come election day and give him their votes.

    “Eventually, the events that we observe in the climate and climate science will ring true to more people than the politicians can ignore.”

    And at that point it will be too late to do anything to reverse it. And when that happens I hope you are consoled knowing that the guys you voted for occasionally won elections (even though they seldom represented you).

  23. Jeff Young says:

    “I propose the following drinking game:

    The first time the President uses the phrase “climate change” or “global warming,” down the drink of your choice.
    The second time, empty out the liquor cabinet.
    The third time, it’s a weekend in Las Vegas with Charlie Sheen (or Chelsea Handler).”

    I counted three “climates” as speech was delivered, not written. So it’s Vegas, babay! Winning!

  24. Solar Jim says:

    It seems President Obama mentioned Climate Change three times. Did I feel an earth tremor?

    My liquor cabinet is empty, per Joe’s suggestion. However, this is not due to celebration but in solidarity with impoverished used-to-be-working Americans.

    Perhaps with flex fuel vehicles we will find dual use technology for emergencies located in the trunk via a bottle of alcoholic beverage.

    Unfortunately, the president is still vastly ignorant on energy. He says we can’t simply take nuclear off the table. Yes we can Mr. President, yes we can. The USA put it on the table, and we the people can take it off. Especially since it has No Free Market Economic Feasibility (and is based on permanent, unsustainable debt from “toxic assets”).

  25. BBHY says:

    Terry,

    In Florida in 2000, 500,000 registered Democrats voted for George W. Bush. Somehow you are able to absolve all of them for any responsibility for Bush winning. Mike already said he was staying home in 2012, so Obama has already lost that vote.

    I do not control how everyone else in the USA votes, so if someone other than who I vote for wins, it is not in any way my fault.

    Here is an idea for you, if you didn’t like Bush and want to blame someone, how about focusing on PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR BUSH!

    Thanks,

    BBHY

  26. Kasra says:

    I found the speech to be about as disappointing as his famously disappointing BP spill speech. It’s almost worse that he said the words “climate change” not once, but four or five times, since he was so timid about it every time, like he was afraid of saying the words too loudly. He even seemed to dance around the idea that it’s actually, maybe, a threat to the planet and future generations of Americans.

    Responding to climate change is a moral imperative. Until he frames everything associated with energy investment, cap and trade, transportation and fuel efficiency, etc etc, around the idea of a moral imperative unlike any other, he’s dead in the water. You can’t use the “China boogeyman” trick, you can’t use the “we’re addicted to oil” trick. Moral imperative. That’s the road to take.

  27. Some European says:

    I didn’t read everything, in order to avoid suicidal impulsions.
    I remember this: America is going to solve the energy challenges by developing clean coal, partnering with Canada because they have untapped oil reserves and by burning shale gas in an environmentally responsible way. In other words: America plans to burn coal, tar sands and shale gas.

    I happen to know that one of the world’s leading climate scientists, by the name of James Hansen, has written a letter to the president to explain the emergency. According to Hansen there’s a chance that if we burn all the world’s coal, oil and gas, the planet will experience runaway global warming. If we burn the tar sands and shale gas as well, the Venus-syndrome is a “dead certainty”.
    You’d think the president would consider an expert’s opinion, especially since he touts Chu’s Nobel Prize.

    I don’t know how you can possibly combine those two ideas in the same head, unless you’re a psycopath. Just sayin’

  28. malcreado says:

    >”it looks like he is saying both parties are equally culpable and equally incompetent.”

    I haven’t seen much to the contrary.

  29. Michael Tucker says:

    So coal is part of our new Clean Energy Standard. Fine. Wonderful. I f#@%ing give up!

    This new clean standard seems to be the same old bunch of 19th century fuels. Well, it is obvious President Obama is fully into the next campaign and it is also obvious he has no real vision for a truly clean energy future for America. I hope he will continue to support clean air, clean water and improved mileage standards.

    The Republicans will throw Arctic Sea drilling and ANWR in his face…how will President Obama react?

    Given that he really just said these word I quote below I think we can add new drilling permits in Alaska and the Arctic…after all he needs the voters support in the next election.

    “Unfortunately, some want to cut these critical investments in clean energy. They’re even shortchanging the resources necessary to promptly issue new permits for offshore drilling. These cuts would eliminate thousands of private sector jobs, terminate scientists and engineers, and end fellowships for researchers, graduate students and other talent we desperately need for the 21st century.”

    So those rats want to slow down drilling permits…they want to take your job opportunities in petroleum geology! We need jobs for the new clean coal mining engineers. So get out of the way of our new Clean Energy Standard you unnamed “some” who want to stop offshore drilling and limit clean coal production. You are not part of the “solution” if you are not part of the problem!

  30. KeenOn350 says:

    Obama has become a real disappointment.

    Modified epitaph for Homo “sap”:

    So much knowledge, so little wisdom.
    So much technology, so little humanity.
    So much greed.
    So little leadership.

  31. @ #22 Daniel

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply. It is a pleasure to argue with a friend.

    @ #25 BBHY

    Thank you also for a thoughtful reply.

    Good, numbers! I like numbers.

    In Florida, Gore “lost” by 537 votes, according to the FEC (http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/2000presgeresults.htm ). Of course, that was never decided on the facts and the Supremes expressly warned that their decision in favor of Bush was not to be used as precedent. As you know, the decision of the Florida Supreme Court was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The relevant Florida numbers were:
    Bush 2,912,790
    Gore 2,912,253
    Nader 97,488
    Buchanan 17,484

    For New Hampshire (4 Electoral votes):
    Bush 273,559
    Gore 266,348
    Nader 22,198
    Buchanan 2,615

    Gore “lost” the electoral college vote 266 to 271. If the vote in either Florida or NH had tilted in Gore’s favor, he would have been President while issues of war and climate change were decided. In Oct 2007, CBO estimated $1.9 Trillion spent in Iraq including present value of interest, but Joseph Stiglitz estimates more than $3 Trillion). If this money were spent on domestic rail transportation instead of going with our soldiers (as of 25 Feb 2011, 4,442 died and 32,046 wounded- 20% with serious brain injuries) to Iraq and getting blown up, there would be less impact on the climate.

    I like many things about Ralph Nader and the Green Party, but I call into question the effectiveness of that result.

    As to registered Democrats voting for Republicans, it appears to be contagious in the South. I am open to strategies for getter a better message out to people who mistake where their interests lie.

    In order, my focus for the 2000 Presidential election is on 1) people who did not vote; 2) people who voted for Bush; 3) people who chose a “protest” vote out of frustration; 4) people who voted for candidates who they thought would represent them but without a chance of carrying the debate on the environment, war, poverty, education, trade, and immigration.

    After elections, this 4th group must realize that they must continue the struggle in public in an attempt to influence the public debate and their representatives. So, after the elections are decided, we are on the same side in trying to influence public debate. I am afraid that I will continue to disagree with you on the causes and seriousness of the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election. Now, we must work together. I appreciate everyone who is active in the debate, especially those who participate in 350.org and other sustainable activities. I do not need to agree with your vote to agree with other efforts you participate in.

    As to the 2008 Presidential election, I am disappointed in the lack of action on climate change. As to the 2010 election, I am fearful and hopeful. I fear those elected and their influence. I hope that through recalls and the demographics of the 2012 election that a better class of politicians will come into office. I hope that many of the politicians who survive reelection will realize that the interests of the country lie in climate mitigation, not adaptation. This is not the only important issue, but it is extremely important and it is the focus of this blog.

  32. Gord says:

    One of the problems of having a binary political system is the fact that there is no home for the disaffected voter’s vote. There are few, if any (?), liberal democracies which have only a binary political environment. We see this as a huge limitation and drag upon any enlightened energy reform in the USA.

    If there were three or four national parties then coalitions would have to be formed and the explicit promises made in the coalition agreements would have to be adhered to. Solutions to problems would cover a greater range of possibilities just because more than one party was involved in their creation.

    This is not going to happen in the USA going forward. So along with all the other impediments, and there are quite a few, to Americans enjoying the benefits of good government, the political system is itself one of these impediments.

    This is most unfortunate.

    One can look into the future to a time when concerted sustained decisive emergency action is required in the USA to fight Global Warming but the binary system has collapsed into one party (for all intents and purposes) with two names. It’s difficult to see how a ‘one’ party system would react to such a crisis other than to heed the will of the political funders.

    There are folks looking at the USA and saying that this trend is (more or less) occurring now with increasing velocity. If true, this would be catastrophic for the World going forward this century.

  33. tst says:

    Obama is like a balloon on a string tied to the center of a rail. The string is going to keep him mostly to the center, but the breeze is going to push him either left or right. In other words, he’s a typical moderate politician.

    I hate to point this out, but the reason the speech was so disappointing was because the wind is blowing Obama to the right. And that’s our fault. We can blame the tea party and the Koch brothers and the professional liars hired by Big Oil all we want, but the facts are really pretty simple. We’re not pushing hard enough. We’re not yelling loud enough. We’re focused on the single biggest issue facing humanity and we can’t move the needle at all. We’re weak and ineffective.

    If we want to see who’s to blame for Obama’s speech, we need to look in the mirror. We won’t start changing the status quo until we take responsibility for our failures and come up with a better game plan.

  34. Sasparilla says:

    #27 Some European – so well put in your 2nd paragraph. I often loose sight of the fact that the stakes have gotten significantly higher (hard to imagine!) than just runaway global warming (my mind doesn’t even want to look at the possibility of the Venus syndrome, but that’s the future where our President wants to take us).

    #28 I totally agree, other than some window dressing, not much difference at all on CO2 emissions. If the Dems put the evisceration of the EPA on CO2 emissions over the top (and that looks likely at this point), they will have sold us out completely.

    How did we get here from 2 years ago?

  35. Mark Shapiro says:

    You can blame Obama all you want, but he is fighting a rearguard action against extraordinarily powerful plutocrats. So if you want clean energy, first tax the rich. To get any progress on clean energy — or any other critical issue — we must blunt the power of our plutocracy.

    We should stop lionizing the wealthy and return to taxing them fairly, efficiently, and democratically.

    Keep working and fighting and voting. Don’t give up. This cause will be with us for a lifetime.

  36. Joan Savage says:

    This is a second try. The short version is that Obama’s call for less NET petroleum imports is functionally a loophole, as it fits with the administration’s interest in reopening oil and gas leases.

    The US-EIA graph is for net imports. The trend reflects two components, a decline in gross imports and an increase in gross exports. Obama’s number of 11.1 (thousand barrels a day) for 2008 was for net imports per day. As Joe Romm has pointed out net imports have declined since 2008. I was curious about the usual difference between gross and net, and found that although there is a decrease in gross imports, much of the net decline is due to a substantial increase in gross exports.

    This means that the President’s objective of net decrease in imports, as a security strategy, leaves open continued expansion of export of petroleum and petroleum products.

    On an annual basis, the gross imports declined.
    US Imports of Petroleum and Petroleum Products
    5,003,082 (2006)
    4,915,957 (2007)
    4,726,994 (2008)
    4,267,110 (2009)
    http://www.eia.gov/ dnav/ pet/ pet_move_imp_dc_NUS-Z00_mbbl_a.htm

    On an annual basis the gross exports increased.
    US Exports of Petroleum and Petroleum Products
    659,392 thousand barrels (2008)
    738,803 thousand barrels (2009)
    844,061 thousand barrels (2010)
    http://www.eia.gov/ dnav/ pet/ pet_move_exp_dc_NUS-Z00_mbbl_a.htm

  37. with the doves says:

    @Mark Shapiro – Sure, let’s tax the rich. I’m down with that. Unfortunately Obama orchestrated a deal to extend and even expand their tax cuts. He’s got a funny way of fighting plutocrats.

  38. Lou Grinzo says:

    I will not comment on President Obama’s announcement and this policy except to say that I agree with the general flow of the prior 30-something comments.

    I would like to emphasize that I think tst(32) nails the problem: Us. There are times when I think my fellow enviros would not only screw up a one-car funeral, but they would turn it into a really dreadful and boring ripoff of Weekend at Bernie’s.

    Yes, we’re out-moneyed. Yes, we’re hampered by having to adhere to the truth. Yes, we mostly come from the same part of the political spectrum that invented the circular firing squad. (“No we didn’t!!!” “Yes we did!!!”)

    Well cry me a freakin’ river. And make it salt-free, ’cause we’re gonna need the water.

    We have reality on our side and we have morality on our side. And we’re getting our butts kicked by money and naked self-interest? How pathetic is that?

    I’m in this ridiculous but incredibly critical fight for my three nieces and all the other people I care about who are substantially younger than I am. I would ask each of you reading this to step away from your keyboard and spend a few quiet minutes answering the question: Why am I involved in this?

    Whatever answer you come up with, assuming you’ll be honest with yourself, will say a lot about what you’ve done to date and what you should be doing beginning right now.

  39. Roger Blanchard says:

    U.S. oil production increased in the last few years mostly due to production increases in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and the Bakken Shale region.

    Gulf of Mexico production has actually declined over the last year so I assume deepwater GOM production has declined. In the second half of 2009 GOM production was 1.73 mb/d. In the first half of 2010 it was 1.63 mb/d and in the first 4 months of the second half it was down to 1.59 mb/d.

    Seven +50,000 b/d peak production fields were brought on-line during the 2007-2010 period in the deepwater GOM with a summed peak projected production of over 900,000 b/d. For the 2011-2013 period, only 2 significant fields with summed peak projected production of 90,000 b/d will be brought on-line. With older fields declining, I’m expecting deepwater GOM oil production to continue to decline.

    I expect U.S. oil production to return to decline this year or next year irrespective of what the U.S. government does in terms of opening areas for exploration. Thus, at some point I expect imports to increase unless U.S. consumption decreases.

    Geologists know where to look for oil and they go to those areas first. The big fields are found early in the exploration process. In the deepwater GOM there has been over 15 years of intense exploration all the way to the Mexican border. The industry has probably found all the +200 million barrel fields and maybe all the +100 million barrel fields. They are now in the “looking for scraps” phase of exploration.

    As for the Bakken Shale region, if the percent increase in production continues at the rate of the last 2 years, I expect production to peak in 2015-2016 for the region.

    Roger Blanchard
    Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  40. Daniel Ives says:

    @ Terry #31

    Arguing over what might have happened had Gore been elected in 2000 and who is responsible will get us nowhere. But before I lay that issue to rest I need to make one more point. Democrats who feel strongly about climate change tend to point to 2000 because Gore, the current champion of climate and clean energy, was so narrowly defeated. But you can’t just imagine the Al Gore of today in the white house and think he would be the same man. There is no way to tell, but President Gore might have been much less enthusiastic about climate change and clean energy and much less effective than you imagine he might be. I politely ask you to keep that in mind and think about it.

    But since we can’t change the past, let’s discuss 2012. Given the nature of this blog, I’ll keep it focused to just climate and clean energy because addressing all relevant issues would be far too much.

    If I’m not mistaken you sound very likely to support Obama in 2012. The same man who this very blog already declared to be a failed President (re: Joe’s posts “The Failed Presidency of Barak Obama”). The same man who, in his most recent State of the Union address, declared that natural gas, nuclear, and clean coal count in the same category as wind and solar as “clean energy.” The same man who took the BP oil disaster, a premium opportunity to push for more electric vehicles, stricter regulation, and more clean energy deployment, and completely fumbled the opportunity. The same man who has been completely silent while the GOP launches a full-scale assault on the EPA and its endangerment finding.

    My question to you is simple. If you really care so much about climate change and clean energy, then why support a 2012 candidate who so clearly doesn’t represent you?

    Lastly, the response “because he’d be better than Romney or Gingrich or Palin etc.” is not convincing to me. Choosing the lesser of two evils relinquishes all sway progressives and liberals have because they will predictably fall in line, and Obama knows that. He knows he can take those votes for granted and not have to answer for his failures.

    Thanks.

  41. David Smith says:

    A few comments;

    1) If you look at the postion planks of the green party, there are many and most of them have nothing to do with global warming. I do not mean to suggest that these are not all worthy causes, but even if candidates could be elected, AGW would only be a small part of the mandate. We already have that with current environmentalists and the Democrats…. no gain.

    2) Fire has been extremely useful since it was discovered and we refined our control of it, over the last tens of thousands of years. We now must wean ourselves from it. Burning anything is contributing to our demise.

    3) We are not even close to a strategy for implementing the aggressive transition to clean energy. It is safe to say that everything that is being done presently by everyone concerned with AGW has failed to produce the desired results. We are worse off now in terms of the public than in 2008. What we need is a strategy on how to develop and implement an effective strategy.

    4) The reason the president does not speak more forcefully on AGW is because there is no political support for such things. Politics isn’t just something periferal in American life. It is what drives our system. This comes back to a failure of those who know and care; us. (I believe that the president is also one who knows and cares.)

  42. Jeff Huggins says:

    I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in tst’s comment 33 and Lou Grinzo’s comment 38 — i.e., that we and our movement have been far too ineffective so far.

    My goodness, the vast majority of the scientific community agrees that climate change is real, deeply problematic, and caused primarily by human actions of which we are all aware. All of the major bona fide scientific organizations say so. Many business leaders say so. Even most of the Republican politicians who have been on the scene for more than two years have said so, in the past, and now they are flip-flopping, which should be very easy to point out and should, in theory anyhow, kill their credibility. Also, the moral case for action is on our side. Moreover, an energy transition will actually create jobs, improve national security, and so forth.

    In other words, for these and other reasons, virtually all of the arguments are “on our side”. Thus — and this is embarrassing to admit, of course — we should ask ourselves, and our leaders, why we are failing so abysmally to accomplish the task at hand. Why? Why? So far, it seems to me, our efforts have fallen way, way, WAY short. We need a new game plan, new leaders, or both — and “both” is most likely the answer.

    And we need them quick, because even though the moral case is on our side, and the science is on our side, morale is going to go down — it already is — if we have to live with ineffectiveness much longer.

    Here is a question: Given that CAP is, I think, the leading advocacy group and think tank on the Democratic/progressive side of the spectrum, why is CAP not getting through to Obama and the Obama Administration? Why? And where are Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and etc. these days? Are those folks in agreement with President Obama’s approach?? (I hope not.) So then, where are they, and why aren’t they speaking out? Has some weird brand of “political calculus” trumped science and basic common sense in the minds of our leaders and their advisors?

    The Obama Administration has a choice, if you ask me: It either needs to get much more straightforward, vigorous, persistent, and effective on the climate change and energy fronts, OR it will lose more and more of its “base”, including me! And we all have a choice: We either need to get serious, or we may as well give up and go to the beach.

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  43. Mark Shapiro says:

    We are not fighting Barack Obama, or Al Gore, or even Mitt Romney.

    We are fighting the oil companies, coal companies, Koch brothers, and other plutocrats.

    And unfortunately, I support those plutocrats, indirectly. I buy gas for my car, natural gas for my house, and electricity to type my rants.

    It’s tough to ask Obama to oppose plutocrats when we voluntarily turn over money to them.

  44. Christian Fekete says:

    How can we have a scientist as a leader? We do not make it anymore…
    Too many lawyers around here!

  45. Christian Fekete says:

    #13 Frank – LET’S RAISE TAXES
    I appreciate your question. As L. Friedman wrotee, we need a much higher tax on gas and then all these clean energies will become urgencies.
    Why did Europe develop Solar Power?
    Would someone pass the word, this is the ONLY alternative

  46. Andy Hultgren says:

    @Lou #38 (and tst #32)

    “…what you’ve done to date and what you should be doing beginning right now.”

    This question has been eating at me for about a year now. As a 31-year-old myself, I believe it is likely that I will live to see the consequences of catastrophic climate change if we continue on a business as usual emissions pathway for another decade or two.

    As a father of two young kids, I believe they will live to see catastrophic consequences of climate change even if we enact what, in this political environment, would be considered “strong” GHG mitigation policies.

    As far was “what we should be doing” – I have considered all manner of responses. A couple I would throw out as starting points:

    1) Give public talks. At work, at your place of worship, at your public library. Just get our there and sound the alarm, while emphasizing that we still have time to act but we must act decisively, and no action is wasted as it all goes toward reducing the odds of runaway climate change.
    I’m not aware of a good presenation that balances the dire science with a motivating call to action. So I’m going to try to build one. But I’m no expert, so if anyone knows of a good, publicly available presentation I/we can use, please shout it out.

    2) 350.org is directly campaigning against the US Chamber of Commerce; the biggest anti-climate lobbying group in Washington. You can sign up to help organize their effort in your local community here: http://chamber.350.org/go/

    3) Bill McKibben and others are calling for a network of volunteers ready to take up non-violent protest in order to pressure our leaders to act on climate change. You can add your name to their network here: http://www.climatedirectaction.org/

    I’m wide open to other thoughts and ideas. My family would appreciate it.

  47. Joan Savage says:

    This reminds me of the tribulations of the civil rights movement in the 1950s. Success seemed impossible yet necessary, public opinion and political will was divided, and much of the population was complicit in the problem, through the buying services or products made by a segregated work force. That echoes many comments here today.

    Like MLK Jr’s “I have a dream” speech, there must be a coherent image of a wholesome successful future. To gain a wider embrace by the public, we have to offer a glimpse at the “promised land.” It helps to see a pleasant footpath awaiting if one is to release one’s grip on a steering wheel.

    A Madison Avenue ad executive said that to cut down on incidence of smoking, you should make it sexy to be a non-smoker. The scare ads don’t work. An attractive alternative does.

    My adult children are crafting a future that is rich in humor and community, light on fuel use. I want to be there!

    Envision a wholesome future, a success. And yes, it comes with good science, sound engineering, great gardening, the works.

  48. Mark Shapiro says:

    Thank you, Joan Savage.

    I like to say that clean energy will make us healthier, wealthier, safer, and more secure.

    Will it make us sexier and more attractive, too? Maybe yes!

  49. Michael Tucker says:

    Mr President you have grossly misrepresented the Brazilian biofuel situation.

    “Already, more than half – half – of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels.”
    BUT THEY DON’T RUN ON BRAZILIAN BIOFUEL!!!

    Brazil makes most of it from sugar and sugar is very expensive now.

    Did anyone know we are currently exporting domestically produced ethanol? I didn’t but we apparently have excess supply AND Brazil will buy it because THEIR domestically produced sugar ethanol is too expensive.

    We have government subsidized biofuel being exported to Brazil because the US does not need it.

    We are selling leases for our domestic oil to foreign oil companies – Do we actually need to drill more or is this all just some big scam?

    We have special arrangements for oil with Mexico and Canada and it looks like President Obama would like to add Brazil to that list.

    Mr President, all this talk about biofuel and the need for more domestic drilling…I CALL BULL S#@T!

    http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN3017143820110330

  50. Merrelyn Emery says:

    At the risk of again being called ‘ludicrous’ and being assigned some nasty motivations, an effective strategy depends on careful thought and planning. Read Sun Tzu. Translate the military landscape into your political landscape. get together and plan your strategy. Relying on one politician to do everything is called the ‘basic assumption of dependency’ (Bion, 1952; 1961).

    Re the Green party – Aussies have been told for over 40 years that a green vote is a vote wasted. But here we are with green politicians at both state and federal levels, holding the balance of power (in the Senate from June) and being a major player in the Multi-party Committee on climate change.

    Get a classy candidate in every state and organize the grass roots. The polls say you have the numbers on CC so why not have a red hot go at it, ME

  51. tst says:

    Andy@46,

    First things first. What we’re doing isn’t working. Albert Einstein pointed out that it’s insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. If our approach was going to work, it would have happened by now. Ergo, it’s time for a new strategy, one that relies less on treating humans like rational creatures – we’re not – and focuses more on our emotions and deeper impulses.

    I’m going to make a radical suggestion. Let’s use science. Not just climate science, but behavioral science. Let’s identify key demographics – people who can exercise either political or financial power – and then craft messages that allow them to see, hear and feel the truth about climate change.

    How do we do that? First, we pick a specific target. Maybe it’s highly educated professionals, or U.S. veterans, or Catholics, or senior citizens, or one of a dozen other specific groups. Ideally it’s a demographic that we understand and empathize with. Then we ask ourselves how, if I was in that group, would someone reach me? How would they break through the detritus of modern life and the day-to-day worries we all feel and touch me with a message so powerful and so compelling that I had no choice but to act?

    I know this sounds more like marketing than activism, but we need to develop very specific messages – specific framing – for all our target demographics. If we can’t reach them and explain what’s happening to the climate in a way that they can understand, and that they’re open to, we don’t have a chance.

    Look at it this way. We’ve been acting like “Ugly Americans,” assuming that regardless of who we’re talking to, they obviously speak English. But they don’t. In a metaphorical sense, only a small percentage speak our language. The rest speak Chinese or Spanish or German. And until we accept the reality of this situation and start talking in terms that our target audience can understand, and telling stories they can relate to, we’ll continue to bang our heads against the wall.

    So my suggestion is that you pick a group. Pick one you can relate to, that you understand, a group that, if they shifted and focused on climate change, would make an inordinate impact in our political process. Then learn what makes them tick, what buttons you have to push to help them see the truth of our predicament. Finally, offer them a way to focus their energy and create positive change for the future.

    We can do this. We can make a difference and give our kids and grandkids a fighting chance. But only if we throw out the old playbook. What we’re doing right now doesn’t work.

  52. American_Idle says:

    1) President Obama understands the climate crisis.
    2) He knows that a price on carbon is essential.
    3) His speeches and actions will be less impeded by the polls in his second term. He could deliver a sermon or a seminar on climate change if he didn’t care about reelection. But that’s up to us in the meantime.
    4) Most people don’t think about climate change. Here is the latest Gallup poll on voter priorities. http://bit.ly/eyMuQb

  53. 350 Now says:

    Andy: @46 re: giving public programs -
    I discovered a PPT online at
    http://policy.audubon.org/climate-change-powerpoint-presentation
    that might give you good ideas. It leans toward the effects of GW on birds since it is an Audubon presentation but should be fairly easy to switch out the photos for a broader audience. I haven’t had time to check the climate facts but just having the template, sizing of photos, etc will be more helpful than starting from scratch. Another idea is possibly to contact the folks at The Climate Project at
    http://us.theclimateproject.org/contact
    for borrowing certain slides or permission to photo/use some of the great graphics in Mr. Gore’s latest book, Our Choice.

    Andy, thank you; it is refreshing to read your thoughtful post tonight after so many disappointing comments regarding the President’s energy speech today. What did they expect anyway – to suspend the laws of nature to neutralize the GOP forces in government? I agree that CP is a powerful brain trust on all things climate related, but can they also juggle the bowling balls of economy, health care, wall street snakes, foreign policy, 2 wars, DADT, joblessness, homelessness and dozens of other critical issues in addition to climate issues? No? Perhaps some should stfu or offer constructive reality-based advice instead of this teapublican-like mud slinging.

    Tst (32/51) and Lou Grinzo (38) – thank you for your sane responses in a day of insanity.

  54. Mossy says:

    #33 and #38
    Disagree. Please don’t blame us climate activists. It’s impossible to fight Big Oil and Coal, the Kochs, the media — The media won’t publicize events and always has to present both sides. The politicians are NOT listening. No matter how many calls they receive, they vote with their funding.

    I’m getting burned-out. We’ve run rallies, polar plunges, protests at our Senators’ offices, written hundreds of letters, emails, phone calls, participated in Stepitup’s, 350.org actions, 1Sky, interfaith climate actions…..it’s NOT working.

    Most people remain clueless. If our Pres would give a speech, many who are simply unaware or underinformed would pay more attention. But really, how serious can the issue be, if our Pres is so mum?

    I don’t comment much. I’m too drained from being active. But check out the website — we’ve been fighting hard for nearly five years now.

    I should add that I am proud of my state, MA, and our efforts here have paid off, (except for our failed special Senatorial election in 2009.)

  55. 350 Now says:

    Terrific PBS program 3/30/11 10pm local time: Journey to Planet Earth – Lester Brown – Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization; hosted by Matt Damon; great interviews with Paul Krugman, Tom Friedman, Tom Lovejoy, Bruce Babbitt and many others

    http://www.pbs.org/journeytoplanetearth/

  56. Prokaryotes says:

    Mark Shapiro says “We are not fighting Barack Obama, or Al Gore, or even Mitt Romney.

    We are fighting the oil companies, coal companies, Koch brothers, and other plutocrats.

    And unfortunately, I support those plutocrats, indirectly. I buy gas for my car, natural gas for my house, and electricity to type my rants.

    It’s tough to ask Obama to oppose plutocrats when we voluntarily turn over money to them.”

    Indeed!

  57. tst says:

    Mossy@54:

    “I’m getting burned-out. We’ve run rallies, polar plunges, protests at our Senators’ offices, written hundreds of letters, emails, phone calls, participated in Stepitup’s, 350.org actions, 1Sky, interfaith climate actions…..it’s NOT working”

    That’s my point.

    I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been there. I’ve written letters to the editor, marched, attended rallies, sent e-mails, called politicians – and you’re right, it hasn’t worked. Unless we can find a way to leverage our efforts and create an unmatched call for change, we’re toast. The system’s inertia, coupled with effective efforts on the other side, will prevent serious action until it’s too late to make a difference.

    So now we have a choice. Either we hang our heads and admit defeat, or we try something new. But there’s no reason to continue on with a course of action that’s proven itself totally ineffective.

    I’m not saying our efforts have been a complete waste. At least we know what doesn’t work. But now it’s time to move on to an approach that actually offers some small chance of success.

  58. Peter M says:

    None of us has failed in trying to reverse poor energy policy and climate change here, and at the public level.I have tried here in Connecticut at the state level- and the answer I hear is ‘People do not think climate change is a problem’

    We have been defeated by the Media- that is being told what to say by powerful special interests. A public that remains either uninformed, or fails to see changes in the environment thus far, and still believes that climate change is a hoax, or does not exist.

    Obviously nothing will be done from Obama. Even in a second term, the GOP will likely still control the house, and even the Senate after elections in 2012.

    What this means is we are on a path as BAU for the foreseeable future. C02 Levels will pass 400ppm by 2014. Once past 400ppm will will have not seen levels this high in 25 million years- which was on the decline from the PETM, when levels reached perhaps 1000ppm 56 million years ago.

    We will all here have to adjust to the fact that we will be headed to a worse case scenario with AGW. CO levels reaching 650ppm as early as 2050, and global temps reaching 3 degrees by mid century and greater then 4 degrees by centuries end.

    Frankly I see no hope in the USA getting anything down till it is far too late. The American public remains blind. Until we begin to see multiple catastrophic events that really begin to change people lives in a hugely negative way, in 2020? 2025 and after- will our Government begin to leave their confused inertia.

  59. malcreado says:

    If you dont like your politicians change them. Speeches like this show that Obama assumes that his base will just vote for him. If you are his base then he needs to be reminded that his base is what will get him reelected not the far right that he is appeasing. The democrats need a challenger in the primary who will sharpen their focus.

    It also shows that this fight needs to be fought locally. if you change your towns -> cites -> states the Fed will follow. They show no ability to lead.

  60. Colorado Bob says:

    Number of Dead Dolphins and Whales in Gulf May Be 50 Times Higher

    Which begs the question: if more than 130 bodies have been recovered so far in the Gulf’s bottlenose dolphin die-off, how many animals are actually dying? Just how big is that iceberg in the Gulf?

    Today, a group of well-respected marine biologists gave us a first look at the answer, and it’s not pretty. Their paper, which has just appeared in the journal Conservation Letters, pores over five years of stranding records for 14 Gulf species and, for each one, compares the number of reported bodies with what we know about their population size and survival rates. They conclude that, on average, only one in fifty whales and dolphins that die at sea are recovered on the Gulf’s shores.

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mjasny/dolphin_die-off_how_big_is_the.html

  61. Keith says:

    I agree with #16
    If you stay home or vote for an unviable 3rd party, we wind up with a T’bagger in the White House.

  62. Colorado Bob says:

    Sea turtle deaths up along Gulf, joining dolphin trend

    “In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen an increase” in turtle deaths in the northern Gulf, Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told msnbc.com.

    Since March 15, she noted, 39 deaths were confirmed in Mississippi, 4 in Alabama and 3 in Louisiana.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42322119

  63. Prokaryotes says:

    Analysis: Nuclear crisis highlights prospects for renewables

    The threat of a meltdown at nuclear reactors in Japan has prompted scrutiny of renewable power options by many nations as growing public unease pushes top consumers to either go slow or halt any immediate expansion in nuclear power.

    Japan, one of the world’s top nuclear power generators and a key advocate of the technology, plans a review of policy to tap sources such as solar. China too may double its target for photovoltaic capacity over the next five years, and Taiwan is studying cutting nuclear output. Germany and Switzerland are either shutting older reactors or suspending approvals.

    Investors are already betting on the change, carrying global benchmark indexes to their highest in 14 months.

    The global FTSE Cleantech index has spiked more than 8 percent since Japan’s earthquake struck on March 11,beating a rise of around 2 percent in the MSCI all-country world stock index. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation index of alternative energy stocks has gained around 12 percent.

    “If nuclear contributes less, then something has to make up the difference and that could very easily be renewables,” Paul Hanrahan, president and chief executive of New-York listed global power firm AES Corporation said in Singapore.

    Giving a fillip to the sector, China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, has already announced plans to raise the price of power generated from renewable sources over the next two years to help encourage investments.

    China’s renewable energy law obliges grid firms to buy all the renewable electricity produced in their region, even though it is more expensive than coal-fired power, but it also allows them to charge “additional” fees for clean electricity sources.

    Besides trying to double solar power capacity, renewable energy officials have urged more government support, saying promotion of clean energy sources could help fill any likely supply gap if safety concerns were to slow China’s nuclear program.

    NATIONAL SECURITY

    “Nuclear power can probably improve China’s energy security, but whether it improves overall national security is something that needs to be thought about deeply,” Li Hejun, chairman of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, which lobbies on behalf of the renewable sector.

    After the Japanese nuclear disaster, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared a three-month moratorium on an extension her government had given last year to 17 nuclear reactors, carrying their lifespan an average of 12 years beyond a prior 2022 cut-off date.

    Taiwan’s state-run Taipower also said it was studying plans to cut nuclear power output.

    “Whatever their exact outcome, the Fukushima events are likely to shift the energy policy balance toward renewables,” Pricewaterhouse Coopers said in a report on March 28.

    Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard suspended the approvals process for three nuclear power stations so safety standards can be revisited after the crisis in Japan.

    Robin Batchelor, a fund manager at BlackRock responsible for $8.2 billion in energy-related funds, said renewables were not really in focus for fund managers prior to the crisis in Japan, adding that the disaster may prompt countries to have a rethink. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/31/us-analysis-renewables-idUSTRE72U2BP20110331

  64. Sasparilla says:

    A couple of final comments – exellent posts by everyone – the group here is such a treasure. I have to take issue with the idea that the reason we’re looking at this situation is because we (as a group) have somehow failed.

    As Joe has pointed out numerous times, the general public by a good margin believe global warming is real and that we should deal with it (the priority may not be high there, but we’re in the worst recession since the 30′s). That is success and in a world where our “democracy” actually reflected what the voters wanted, we would have started addressing climate change long ago.

    The failure here, in my opinion, is our political system – it has been corrupted by monied interests almost absolutely. Three and a half years ago you could get Republicans to vote for climate change legislation – that is not the case anymore. Money and power have twisted things so that our government goes where the money is (unless there is a massive outcry from the public). And the money sure isn’t on the side of climate change action.

    To those saying President Obama is just waiting till his 2nd term to show us his true colors on climate change – that just doesn’t pass the smell test. Our president had two years of large Democratic majorities in both houses, and climate change was one of 3 primary issues he promised to act on during has campaign…if he was ever going to show his true colors on climate change it was during those first 2 years – the problem is, other than signing the stimulus bill, his administration has constantly been getting in the way of serious climate action (whether by giving away the drilling rights when the climate bill people had told his admin they wanted them for their bill or stunning the House leadership in 2009 when they had to push the President to help lobby House members for the climate bill they wanted to pass or signing off on new tar sands pipeline from Canada or approving expanded coal production or saying he was open to compromise on EPA regulation of CO2 emissions or his fossil fuel speech yesterday…and on and on…to expect some radically different behavior of the President after 2012 when any majorities he might have will certainly be less than after 2008 is naive – in my opinion.

    Will he come and tell us that he gets climate change at some point before the 2012 election to shore up his base – you bet, count on it, but his actions give a far better view of what his future actions will be.

    At this point, it seems Federal support for renewables (wind and solar) will continue to be touch and go for the foreseeable future (years), if not eliminated by Koch’s minions. Our renewable industries, in the US, will probably have to struggle along until their costs per KW can beat cheap coal and cheap gas without subsidies (10 years for wind?) other than a few states that push it – totally not what we need to wait on.

    The next act in this tragedy (so far) is whether our “representative” government strips the EPA of its CO2 regulation authority. If this happens (seems likely), it won’t be because we failed in some way – the majority of US citizens don’t want the EPA stripped of authority here. It will happen because our government is corrupt and its members were paid and lobbied to do so.

  65. Brad Pierce says:

    Switchgrass is looking more and more practical as a biofuel feedstock (and forage), thanks to genetic engineering research sponsored by the US Dept. of Energy. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/02/04/1100310108.full.pdf

    Investing in practical research like this has greater ROI than subsidies. Of course, we should also level the playing field by stopping all subsidies for the oil, nuclear, coal industries and so on, and impose a serious tax on carbon pollution.

  66. Steve says:

    Last night Rachel Maddow skewered Obama’s plan for offshore drilling and his over confidence in the blow out preventer technology that is supposed to prevent another disaster in the gulf. She based her criticism on the report on the disaster from the Norwegians. It is only a matter of time before another one of these blow outs happen only next time it will happen at such a great depth that three will be no hope of stopping it.

  67. Steve says:

    # 65- agree but only if planted on marginal land otherwise food crops will be pushed out of the way increasing pressure on food prices in the third world and resulting in increased deforestation because they have to replace what was lost. Recent research has shown that a diverse seed mix including several tallgrasses and prairie flowers yield a higher yield of biomass while supporting a more diverse mix of wildlife that are under increasing threat from a warming climate. A monoculture of switch grass does not provide optimum habitat while producing less biomass. Biomass can solve a lot of problems but if not thoughtfuly executed, a lot of problems will be made worse such has been the case with the ethanol from corn craze.

  68. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Roger (#8):

    Roger Blanchard says:
    March 30, 2011 at 10:49 am
    One of those proposed cellulosic ethanol plants is planned for the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, not far from where I live. Here are some facts concerning the proposed facility:

    Output Energy versus Input Energy
    The 6 plant boilers (90-millionBTU/hour boilers running 24 hours/day) are projected to generate 4.7 billion megajoules per year of energy that will be used to make ethanol. The plant is projected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol/year, which has an energy content of 3.3 billion megajoules of energy. The boiler energy consumed in making ethanol is 1.43 times more than the energy content of the ethanol that they plan to produce. If the diesel fuel that Frontier projects to use for timber harvesting, wood processing and transportation of wood is included, the energy ratio increases to about 1.6.

    I believe that the boiler fuel will be bark and waste lignin. They seem, in fact, to be talking about selling excess bark and waste lignin:

    Frontier Q&A

    Frontier’s cellulosic ethanol facility will generate very little waste because we will use all parts of the delivered pulpwood: the bark will be utilized or sold for boiler fuel, water in the tree will be used in the process, lignin will also be utilized or sold for boiler fuel, and the cellulose will be converted to the natural sugars to be turned into ethanol.

    I’m not sure where you get your information, but since the biolers appear to be run off of waste bark and lignin, that seems to destroy the validity of your calculation. Even if the waste bark and lignin are sold off site for boiler fuel, that will presumably displace fossil fuel energy off site.

    Cellulosic ethanol is generally thought to have a net energy return on energy invested of up to ten times. If the energy invested comes from biomass, that doesn’t matter, because the source of the biomass chemical potential energy is the sun via photosynthesis. Any bark or waste lignin burned to run the boilers would of course be almost carbon neutral, and the harvesting machinery could also be run off of ethanol, instead of diesel fuel.

    They seem to be close to rail lines, and also have access to deep water ports for barge access. So, I’m not sure your transportation energy calculations are correct, either:

    The location is close to an extensive rail network, major highways, and deep water ports for barge and road access.

  69. Leland Palmer says:

    About the rest of the posts…want a little cheese with that whine?

    Obama and Chu are doing the best that they can, given the irrational Republican response and the deafening public silence and lack of passion about the issue, I think.

    Talking about clean energy is smart politics, in the current political climate of denial.

    It’s a strange, scary situation, with the elite financial leadership of the country apparently wanting to profit from the coming chaos, the Republicans bought off, and the Democrats impotent.

    I wish things were different, too.

    Things are the way they are, though. So Obama and Chu are doing what they can.

    While most people are still unwilling to talk about it, lately I have been listening to people on the bus that I ride to work. They are willing to talk about it, now. They are talking about the strange weather we are having, and making the connection to global warming, without prompting. They are speculating about possible global warming connections to the Japanese Tsunami and are making the definite connection to the increased precipitation events we are seeing.

    Hang in there…I think maybe the tide is turning. People on the street are starting to talk openly about global warming.

    Obama could even come out a big political winner. Some of the seeds Chu has planted will very likely succeed, big time.

    None of this is enough to reverse AGW.

    But it is a start.

  70. Leland Palmer says:

    A few final points about cellulosic ethanol.

    Trees are between a quarter and a third lignin, and this cannot be used to produce ethanol. So, there’s going to be combustible waste from the process, which might as well be burned to run the boilers. It might also be possible to use solar energy to aid in distillation.

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working on using lignosulfate waste from paper production as a cheap feedstock for carbon fiber production, though. So that might be another thing they could do with their lignin.

    The energy barrier due to distillation is present now, but might not be present in the future. I don’t know much about this, but there have been pilot process developments of solvent extraction and then co-distillation of ethanol in the past, and I think that the wine industry is developing processes for concentration of ethanol which minimize distillation, using some sort of membrane technology. These are lower energy processes than distillation.

    Here is a 1987 summary of a report on solvent extraction of ethanol:

    Final Report of 1987 study of ethanol solvent extraction process