President Obama outlined a number of key energy-related measures in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, urging Congress to pursue legislation to mitigate climate change and calling for an expansion of clean energy and reduced red-tape for natural gas and oil permits.
"After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar—with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before—and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it," the president said of the nation’s energy endeavors.
The president noted that over the past four years, emissions of "dangerous carbon pollution" had fallen, but he said the country must do more to combat climate change. "The fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods—all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science—and act before it’s too late."
The president called on Congress to pursue a "bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change," pointing to a previous attempt by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to establish a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. If Congress did not act, the president said the White House would: "I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
The U.S. has made gains in its production of renewable energy, he noted. "Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year—so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."
The natural gas boom had also led to "cleaner power and greater energy independence," the president said. "That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water."
Obama also addressed education issues that affect the energy industry and announced “a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy” that will “reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math—the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”
Sources: POWERnews, The White House