President Obama held firm in his support of clean energy, energy conservation and energy independence in his state of the union address, even amid vocal and mounting criticism from across the isle. Obama called for an “all-out, all-of-the-above strategy” for American energy independence.
“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.” He touched on funding and development of clean energy technologies, clean energy tax credits, conservation and energy efficiency, fracking and opening additional offshore oil and gas reserves.
Obama also highlighted steps his administration has taken to achieve energy independence and used his pulpit to strongly scold and rebuff the lack of support and action in Congress. "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."
Obama repeated his call to repeal oil and gas tax credits, arguing that “We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough.” He went on to say “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.” Despite his strong and continued criticism of the oil and gas industry’s tax credits, he did include oil and gas in his “all-of-the-above” initiative. He stated that responsible development of domestic oil and natural gas should be included in a comprehensive energy plan. He also voiced his support for fracking, though said it should be subject to appropriate environmental regulations.
Absent from his speech was any reference to Solyndra, the California solar panel manufacturer that received a Department of Energy loan and recently declared bankruptcy. But he did say that “Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail." He went on to say "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.”
While the President’s support should give the energy industry a shot in the arm, without Congressional support or action of any kind the long-term impact of this “all-of-the-above” initiative is unclear.