The SOTU energy policy extract

Michael Giberson

For your convenience, the energy policy parts from last night’s State of the Union address. Be aware that I’ve dropped some non-energy words, phrases or even short sentences without indicating where such edits happened in order to make this extract relatively clean. In some cases I kept non-energy bits that seemed useful as context for the energy discussion.

Think about the America within our reach: A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.

I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

Innovation demands basic research. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.

What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts.

Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got a power grid that wastes too much energy.

I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about energy. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right now: Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about Government spending have supported clean energy projects for the folks back home.

The last four paragraphs fell outside the main energy portion of the speech, but since energy was mentioned I’ve included them here.

The full speech clocked in just under 7000 words, while this extract is a bit over 900 words. The word energy appeared 23 times in the speech.

The Hill‘s E2 Wire blogged the energy content of the speech. See:

For another view, here is a report from CNN.

Can anyone name a major energy policy initiative that emerged from any prior State of the Union address? That is to say, any reason to expect any of this to matter beyond a week from now?

My natural inclination is to say these things don’t matter, but the 2006 State of the Union address lauded the promise of cellulosic ethanol and the following year the Renewable Fuels Standard was implemented.

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2 thoughts on “The SOTU energy policy extract

  1. “My natural inclination is to say these things don’t matter, but the 2006 State of the Union address lauded the promise of cellulosic ethanol and the following year the Renewable Fuels Standard was implemented.”

    As we have discussed here recently, research does not assure major breakthroughs, no less on a schedule; and, technology-forcing standards cannot force technology into existence.

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