Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU Calls For "All-Of-The-Above Strategy" For American Energy

Jan 25: President Obama delivered his State of the Union address and covered a wide-ranging agenda of topics including, of particular importance to the WIMS readers, Washington, DC gridlock, energy, infrastructure and regulatory reform.
    On the subject of Washington gridlock, the President emphasized the problems with the 60-vote filibuster and cloture rule in the Senate and destructive DC politics and rhetoric. He reminded that, "A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -– even routine business –- passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days." He said,  I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now:  Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken. Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?" He called for lowering "the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas. 
    He said, "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. . . when we act together, there's nothing the United States of America can't achieve. That's the lesson we've learned from our actions abroad over the last few years." And, he concluded the speech reemphasizing the need for politicians to work together saying, "No one built this country on their own.  This nation is great because we built it together.  This nation is great because we worked as a team.  This nation is great because we get each other's backs.  And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard.  As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
    The President spent a good deal of time talking about energy and one of the biggest applause lines of the night came when he called for an "all-of-the-above strategy" for American energy. The President said:
". . .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.  (Applause.)  Right now -- 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 16 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 100 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. Because 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.  (Applause.)  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.    
"Now, what's true for natural gas is just as 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.  Today, it's hiring workers like Bryan, who said, "I'm proud to be working in the industry of the future."
"Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural 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 walk away from workers like Bryan. 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've subsidized oil companies for a century.  That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.  Pass clean energy tax credits.  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 3 million homes.  And I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, 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 a 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, more jobs for construction workers who need them.  Send me a bill that creates these jobs."
    The President also said that the focus on energy should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America's infrastructure. He said:
"We've got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

"During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge.  After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways.  Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

"In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.  But you need to fund these projects.  Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

    The President also reemphasized the need for regulatory reform, but cautioned about going too far and being selective in the reforms. He said:

"There's no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly.  In fact, I've approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.  I've ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don't make sense.  We've already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years.  We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill -- because milk was somehow classified as an oil.  With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. 

"Now, I'm confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. Absolutely.  But 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.  I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.  I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men."

    Access the full text of the President's SOTU address (click here). Access the video of the SOTU (click here). Access links to more White House information on the SOTU including ways to participate and schedule of events (click here). Access the Blueprint for the Future (click here).[#All]

Reactions To The President's State Of The Union Address - Jan 24: WIMS has assembled some representative excerpts of reactions to the President's State of the Union message. In addition the White House released a composite of a number of responses from many governors, mayors, business representatives, and labor organizations (See link below).
    Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana Republican Address to the Nation: "The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight.  But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades.  One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today. . .So 2012 is a year of true opportunity, maybe our last, to restore an America of hope and upward mobility, and greater equality.  The challenges aren't matters of ideology, or party preference; the problems are simply mathematical, and the answers are purely practical. An opposition that would earn its way back to leadership must offer not just criticism of failures that anyone can see, but a positive and credible plan to make life better, particularly for those aspiring to make a better life for themselves. Republicans accept this duty, gratefully. . .
    "It's absolutely so that everyone should contribute to our national recovery, including of course the most affluent among us.  There are smart ways and dumb ways to do this: the dumb way is to raise rates in a broken, grossly complex tax system, choking off growth without bringing in the revenues we need to meet our debts.  The better course is to stop sending the wealthy benefits they do not need, and stop providing them so many tax preferences that distort our economy and do little or nothing to foster growth. . . As a loyal opposition, who put patriotism and national success ahead of party or ideology or any self-interest, we say that anyone who will join us in the cause of growth and solvency is our ally, and our friend.  We will speak the language of unity.  Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait. . ."

    Eileen Claussen, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: "We share President Obama's enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America's energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America's energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint. Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we're working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges."

    KierĂ¡n Suckling, Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity: "Rather than calling for bold action to combat climate change, Obama intends to deepen America's dependence on fossil fuels which will increase dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Expanding offshore oil drilling raises the risk of disastrous spills, puts wildlife in harm's way and solidifies U.S. dependence on the fossil fuels that are driving the global climate crisis."

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune: Tonight President Obama laid out a blueprint for a nation built to last, highlighting important priorities to give hardworking Americans a fair shake, create good jobs for American workers and restore America's role as a global leader in manufacturing and innovation. There is no better way to achieve those goals than with a clean energy economy. We are especially encouraged by the President's commitment to doubling down on clean energy sources like wind and solar and creating incentives for clean energy growth and job creation. . . But we can't wait much longer for the clean energy revolution.  Each day, corporate polluters put our children's health and our nation's future at risk, polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink with toxic chemicals."

    Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council: "Home-grown sources of energy certainly are preferable to imports, especially from unstable regions of the world. 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. That's the path to a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous world. We all want American energy independence. But let's do it right."

    T. Boone Pickens, Chair BP Capital Management: "I agree we should use every available American resource. I applaud President Obama for highlighting natural gas and for calling on Congress to better promote its use. The expanded use of natural gas in America — in power generation and transportation — has enormous bipartisan support in the Congress and in the states. It is time to move from vague generalities to specifics on how we make this transition happen. I am confident that President Obama, as well as all the candidates for President, will lay out detailed plans on how they intend to achieve it. . . America does not have a natural gas production problem — we are awash in natural gas. What we have is a demand problem and unless we bring both sides of the equation in balance, we will see this cleaner, cheaper, abundant, domestic resource exported in greater and greater quantities."

     Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council: "ACC welcomes the President's focus on energy and manufacturing—key to any blueprint for a stronger economy. Our member companies and their more than 780,000 employees are part of the answer, creating solutions that will enable a strong, secure and sustainable future. . . Natural gas from shale is a prime example of the 'homegrown energy' the President wants America to use. It's a game changer for the chemistry industry and other manufacturers, who can use more affordable and stable supplies to expand exports and create jobs. . . we need effective, fiscally responsible policies and balanced, rational regulations that will allow the nation to capitalize on our significant domestic energy sources while also protecting our environment."

    National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons: "Tonight the President focused on the need to create jobs, shore up our energy security through increased domestic production and revive manufacturing in America. Yet his decision last week to reject the Keystone XL killed the promise of nearly 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs along with the 118,000 indirect jobs that would ripple across our economy. . . The Obama Administration must take action to put an end to the rampant overregulation and overreach by the National Labor Relations Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. . . As consumers of one-third of our nation's energy supply, manufacturers embrace a true 'all-of-the-above' energy policy – not one subject to the political winds."

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue: "Tonight the president addressed a number of subjects important to the economy and our nation. Unfortunately, too many of the solutions he proposed rest on higher taxes, more spending, and an avalanche of new regulations. The way to create the jobs Americans need is to grow our free enterprise economy, not to further expand the federal government. "The Chamber stands ready to work with the administration and both parties in Congress to create American jobs without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. Stronger growth is fundamental to creating more opportunity, a more inclusive economy, and a better quality of life for all Americans. "All participants in this discussion should concentrate on uniting Americans around a common plan, not dividing them for political purposes."

    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA): The President tonight outlined a laundry list of popular programs without regard to what they cost and his own record in office. He has failed to deliver on economic growth promises, has squandered $800 billion in stimulus funds, and vetoed jobs and affordable domestic energy bills passed by Congress. What is clear is that he is pursuing a partisan class-warfare agenda aimed at dividing the American people. . ."

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI):"President Obama talked of a future where we're in control of our own energy, but time and again, he has blocked our ability to develop our vast energy resources and partner with North American allies to lessen our dependence on hostile regions of the world. The President said we need an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy, but his government's policies are keeping supplies locked away and squeezing our power sector, making energy less reliable and less affordable for working families and businesses struggling to grow. He said a lot about energy at a time when the American people recognize the jobs and security that come with energy development, but he stayed silent on two of the most significant energy issues facing our nation today: the Keystone XL pipeline he rejected and the failed government gamble on Solyndra. The silence speaks volumes about contrasting policy visions. . ."
    U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): "Tonight, the President delivered a campaign speech designed to please his liberal base. The President told the American people that he has a blueprint for the economy, but what he failed to mention is that we've been working off the President's blueprint for three years. And what's it gotten us: millions still looking for work, trillions in debt, and the first credit downgrade in U.S. history. The President also proposed some ideas tonight that could have bipartisan support. If he's serious about those proposals -- if he really wants to enact them -- he'll encourage the Democrats who run the Senate to keep them free from poison pills like tax hikes on job creators that we know from past experience turn bipartisan support into bipartisan opposition. The President can decide he's not interested in working with Congress if his party only controls one half of it. That's his prerogative. He can give up on bipartisanship. But we won't. Our problems are too urgent. The economy is too weak. The future is too uncertain."

    Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: "President Obama has clearly received the message that his global warming agenda is gone, dead, done with the American people -- that's why he was touting oil and natural gas so much in his State of the Union address tonight. . . But while he talks the talk, he is clearly still determined to achieve his global warming agenda by shutting down oil, gas and coal development so that energy prices will, as he said himself, 'necessarily skyrocket'. . . He took credit for increased natural gas production, but this is the same President who said that we have to develop natural gas in a way that won't 'poison people' and has an administration that is waging a regulatory assault on hydraulic fracturing – the primary method of shale gas extraction – even though under state regulation, there has not been one confirmed case of water contamination from fracked formations. . ."
    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee: "The President's eloquent optimism stands in marked contrast to the angry tone Americans have been hearing on the campaign trail from his opponents. I welcome his call to action for us to work together to strengthen the middle class, create clean energy jobs, help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, protect the environment from toxins such as mercury and rebuild America's infrastructure. I will do everything I can to bridge the partisan divide and we can start right away by passing a bipartisan surface transportation bill that saves or creates millions of jobs."
    Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) : "The President is absolutely correct to focus on reviving our nation's manufacturing sector. . . President Obama also addressed infrastructure development as one of the keys to creating jobs and spurring economic growth.  Our nation's transportation infrastructure is weakening by the day, roads and bridges are deteriorating, and the traveling public's lives are at stake.  It's critical we focus on making transportation safety a top priority, and with sound investments in our infrastructure we can do just that."
    Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM): "I thought President Obama laid out a very good blueprint for how we can accelerate economic growth in our country – to create jobs now and to lay the foundation for a strong economy for the next several decades.  I think it's important for us to focus on rebuilding manufacturing jobs in our country, and to develop a labor force that can do the work that needs to be done.  I also agree with the president that we need to focus on our own energy sources to meet our economic needs.  All of that, I think, is very positive and would be good for the country.  I hope the Congress will rise to the challenge and work with President Obama over the next several months."
    Access the White House listing of comments (click here). Access the complete statements by clicking on the underlines above. [#All]