Obama talks energy policy during State of the Union address

By Erin Voegele | January 24, 2012

Energy was one of many topics addressed by President Barack Obama during his 2012 State of the Union address. “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,” said Obama.

Offering the U.S. natural gas industry as an example, Obama said 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 30 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,” he said. “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…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.”

Regarding the oil industry, Obama noted that our country has subsidized oil companies for a century, and that is 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,” he said. “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 3 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.”

Enzyme company Novozymes has spoken out in support of the administration’s renewed focus on renewable energy and job creation. “It’s proven that home-grown, renewable energy can put steel in the ground, create jobs and power our economy,” said Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America. “Working with the President, we can help America become less dependent on foreign oil and a smarter consumer of energy. Innovations like advanced biofuels can play a major role in the President’s vision but we need steady policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard—and we look forward to working Congress to preserve them.”

The National Biodiesel Board has also issued a response to the speech. “The U.S. biodiesel industry is proving that we can accomplish the president's goals of creating jobs while building a clean-energy economy,” said Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. “With the help of strong domestic energy policy, we had a record year of production last year and supported nearly 40,000 jobs across the country.”

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