Did The White House Mean To Call Uranium, Natural Gas, And Coal ‘Renewable Energy?’

Our guest blogger is A. Siegel, of Get Energy Smart.

In association with the State of the Union address, the White House released “A Blueprint for An America Built to Last.” Within it, “A Blueprint to Make the Most of America’s Energy Resources,” from which we learn that “nuclear power, efficient natural gas, and clean coal” are “renewable energy” sources:

The President called on Congress to build on our success in positioning America to be the world’s leading manufacturer in high-tech batteries and reiterated his call for action on clean energy tax credits and a national goal of moving toward clean sources of electricity by setting a standard for utility companies, so that by 2035, 80% of the nation’s electricity will come from clean sources, including renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, nuclear power, efficient natural gas, and clean coal.

This is, almost certainly an issue of poor writing. It could have read “nuclear power, efficient natural gas, clean coal, and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower.” That rewrite, however, would have put renewables at the back of the line and hurt the President among those strongly supportive of greater investment in renewable energy deployment and research — that is to say, the majority of Americans. Yet, in last year’s State of the Union address the President said that “clean energy jobs” meant nuclear power, offshore oil and gas drilling, and “clean coal.”


All the uranium on planet Earth was formed 6.6 billion years ago and is not “renewable.” Now, if we wish to speak in terms of tens of millions of years, one could argue that coal, natural gas, and oil are renewable. Today’s biomass will, over that sort of geologic time, create (renew, one might say) new fossil fuel supplies. However, in any rational discussion, these are not “renewable” fuels within any context of human civilization.

This section, however, has far more serious problems — most importantly, the President’s whole-sale throwing in the hat with the “natural gas is good for the environment and economy” propaganda that is a Potemkin village when it comes to addressing the nation’s real challenges.