Obama tells Congress he wants “all of the above” energy strategy


President Obama made the case Tuesday night for producing more of the United States’ energy supplies domestically in pursuing an “all-of-the-above” approach to further bolster the economy and national security.

Speaking to a joint session of Congress in his third State of the Union address, Obama called for policies that harness a mixture of fossil-fuel and alternative energy resources. He said his administration would open most of the nation’s offshore oil-and-gas resources for development, continue supporting shale-gas production and put more renewable-energy projects on federal lands.

But he also made requests of Congress. He repeated his unsuccessful call last year for a mandate on clean power sources and asked Congress to pass tax incentives for cleaner energy sources while rolling back subsidies for fossil fuels.

“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,” Obama said in his speech, in which energy formed one component of his “blueprint for an economy built to last.”

He has faced immense pressure from Republicans, energy industry groups and others to make it easier to drill for oil and gas offshore as well as mine for coal. Meanwhile environmental and clean-energy advocates, who form a component of his base, have long sought to reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and shift toward zero-emission sources like solar and wind.

More oil and gas

Obama defended his administration’s record on fossil fuels, saying U.S. oil production reached its highest level in eight years and net oil imports, at 46 percent in 2011, had dipped to their lowest level in 16 years.

In the face of criticism, he tossed bones to fossil-fuel and alternative-energy supporters.

The president said he would direct his administration to open 75 percent of the nation’s potential offshore fossil-fuel resources. Saying that tapping the nation’s oil reserves “isn’t enough,” he added he would “take every possible action to safely develop” domestic natural gas.

But he said his administration would move forward on new rules requiring disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process on public lands. “America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk,” Obama said.

The American Petroleum Institute, the leading oil-and-gas lobbying group, said ahead of the speech that Obama was making a “course correction.”

But after Obama called for eliminating certain oil-and-gas subsidies, the group walked back its praise.

“Advocating greater energy production but penalizing those who provide that energy is not a sound energy policy, but a contradiction,” API President Jack Gerard said in a statement. (The group also alleged today that the rise in oil production occurred on state and private lands and that the administration was still inhibiting drilling on federal lands.)

Boosting alternative energy

With Republicans holding a strong majority in the House, Obama acknowledged he probably can’t win approval of certain policies he campaigned on in 2008, such as sweeping climate-change legislation.

But he said the nation nonetheless should help support the development of alternative energy sources.

“I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here,” Obama said.

In addition to seeking the “clean-energy standard,” he called on Congress to pass “clean-energy tax credits” and other incentives to get businesses to make their facilities more energy-efficient. He didn’t specify which energy credits he was referring to; some are set to expire in the coming two years.

Obama also said he would approve enough renewable-energy projects on federal lands to power 3 million homes.

He didn’t mention Fremont, Calif.-based Solyndra LLC, the bankrupt solar-panel maker that received a loan guarantee from the Energy Department. Congressional Republicans have investigated the loan guarantee and questioned whether taxpayer money is being wasted in renewable energy programs.

But Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee, praised Obama and blasted Republicans, who he said “are suffering from Solyndra syndrome, a malady which leads them to throw the entire solar, wind and other renewables industries into quarantine because of a single company’s failure.”

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, offered muted praise for Obama.

“Home-grown sources of energy certainly are preferable to imports, especially from unstable regions of the world,” she said in a statement. “But as the president noted, feeding our addiction to fossil fuels is not the long-term solution; we need to embrace renewable sources of energy with even greater fervor as well as energy efficiency.”

Environmental groups were elated when the administration proposed greenhouse-gas and fuel-efficiency standards doubling passenger-vehicle mileage by 2025 and finalized toxic-emission standards for coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Facing pressure from Republicans over what some have called “job-killing” regulations, Obama said his administration has rolled back unneeded or outdated rules to help business. But he defended other regulations his administration has handed down, including the power-plant regulation (known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards) and tougher safety standards for offshore drilling.

“I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago,” Obama said. “I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.”

No Keystone XL mention

Missing from Obama’s speech was any mention of the Keystone XL pipeline, which the State Department denied a permit for over concerns about a Congressionally imposed Feb. 21 decision deadline. Republicans have vowed to push legislation to approve the pipeline.

Obama’s failure to mention Keystone XL or Solyndra “speaks volumes about contrasting policy visions,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited Keystone XL supporters to attend the speech, among them Jay Churchill, who manages a Roxana, Ill., refinery belonging to Houston-based ConocoPhillips.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, sought to make Keystone XL an issue on their website midway through the speech, highlighting examples of key Democrats and labor unions that supported approving the 1,700-mile pipeline carrying oil from Alberta’s tar sands region to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.

Puneet Kollipara

8 Responses

  1. Bobo Jones says:

    Mr President … you obviously don’t know what you are talking about. You were lost since day one. And your SOTU was a repeat and a flop.
    And if the media would have properly vetted you, you would have never been elected.

  2. Bill in Houston says:

    Note that Obama deliberately left off nuclear energy. So, his “all of the above” is just hot air (but he doesn’t want to develop THAT form of energy).

  3. geezer117 says:

    What claptrap! Energy production on public lands and waters, the only space Obama can control, is down 40% since he took office. Only in private land, where Obama has no control, is production up.

    With Obama, what he says and what he does are always polar opposites.

  4. President Obama claims that our nation needs an “all out all of the above strategy”- it’s double-speak though, because in his next line he clarifies that this strategy means less oil, less natural gas, less coal, and less drilling. His ‘all of the above’ strategy is going to include additional fees, regulations, and rules on companies that he doesn’t like. So, in summary, he is pitching a “some of the below strategy”.

    from http://aconservativeteacher.blogspot.com/2012/01/state-of-union-address-2012-post-note.html

    • Dan X. McGraw says:

      This is his next line: “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.”

  5. Dollar says:

    Just amazing to hear him take credit for increased oil production during his term.

    This is the same guy, who in the SOTU address two years ago, called oil ” yesterday’s energy ” , and had trouble getting his lips to form the words ” natural gas ” .

    Now he invented natural gas.

    It was the free market that brought about the increase in oil and gas production. Higher prices from 2003 and on, have led to increases in production, just as the free market is suppose to work. If government stays out of the way.

  6. NoWhining says:

    How 2 faced can BO be?? On the cusp of denying Keystone he says he’s all in — riigghhhhtttt. What an incompetent. Instead of the midas touch, he has the disaster touch.
    Stopped in 2010. 2012 time to end this bad experiment in government.

  7. jukester says:

    It is hard to rationally comment on the garbage, inconsistencies, and falsehoods which were spoken last night by our current tenant of the White House. Does one laugh (from the humor) or cry (from the damage being done to the country and our economy), by the lack of leadership at the top? And to then say he is calling for an all out energy strategy in the USA, while dumping additional regulations, delay tactics, and constraints on the very industries trying to develop the resources (whether it be coal, oil, gas, wind power, solar, …..you name it)? I don’t think the man is crazy or dumb – so what does that make him when he speaks what he knows is not true?