Obama: I will act on causes of climate change

By Ed King

US President Barack Obama used his annual State of the Union address to explain how he is committed to promoting ‘clean energy’ across the country.

In his speech to Congress, Obama said he was determined to deal with the USA’s addiction to oil and gas.

And he stressed that this was part of a strategy that could see the USA’s faltering economy recover on the back of investment in clean and green technology.

But the President effectively admitted that the chances of the US agreeing to a global deal to curb climate change were slim.

“The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change,” Obama said.

“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.”

The US Navy is one of the world’s biggest investors in low-carbon research and development, and recently tested a form of algae-based biofuel with shipping giants Maersk.

It has already committed to cutting 50% off its conventional oil consumption by 2020.

Economic growth through green growth

With economic growth in the USA stagnating, Obama stressed the role new technologies could play in revitalising American industry.

Citing the subsidies enjoyed by fossil-fuel producers in the US, Obama said it was time to create a level playing-field for all energy producers.

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

“We have subsidised 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.”

Low hanging fruit

And in a country where cheap oil, large cars and a laissez-faire attitude to energy efficiency has ruled for much of the past 50 years, Obama stressed there were easy ways for the USA to cut its reliance on oil and gas

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Congress reaction:

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

“Our Make It In America plan will help manufacturers expand and hire more workers, develop American energy and support new, home-grown alternative energy technologies.”

Newt Gingrich (2012 Presidential Candidate)

“Only recently, the president canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have created countless new jobs and helped America on the way to energy independence because he wanted to appease the far left of his party.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

“Republicans will also continue pushing for the Keystone project, which the president did not mention tonight despite his recent decision to destroy 20,000 American jobs.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

“The President’s favoritism continues into his view on energy. Last week we saw the President side with his friends in the environmental lobby by denying the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Then, while the President highlights massive cuts to the Department of Defense, he also announced that they will be forced to purchase his preferred type of energy – clean energy.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)

“We can start with the President’s ideas to expand American energy, whether from our natural resources or renewable sources such as biofuels including ethanol.  But we can and should do better–for the economy, the environment and America’s push for greater energy independence.”

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