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The Green Guide to Obama's State of the Union Address

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address on Wednesday covered a lot of ground, but a significant portion of the speech was dedicated to the all-important topic of energy security. Below, some choice quotes from the speech.

  • "From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the new factories that manufacture clean-energy products. Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act." As we suspected, Florida will be the first to reap the benefits of Obama's $8 billion in spending on high-speed rail. Clearly, Obama believes that we will lag behind as a nation without a high-speed rail infrastructure.
  • "These nations, they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy, because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America." And that, we presume, is why the White House recently invested millions in math and science funding.
  • "Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history, an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy." Innovation is important, but the most important kind of innovation right now is in the energy sector. And that means we can expect to see a lot more of it under this administration—with the ARPA-E program, for example.
  • "But to create more of these clean-energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives, and that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development." This part is a little contentious. Many green energy advocates think nuclear power is far too unsafe to be able in the long term. And what does opening up offshore areas for oil and gas have to do with clean energy? We're guessing Obama is advocating it as a means to secure American-made energy, albeit in a not-so-sustainable way.
  • "I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But—but here's the thing. Even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future, because the nation that leads the clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy, and America must be that nation." Bingo. It doesn't matter what side of the climate change debate you fall on. The fact is, clean energy is only going to become more important as oil supplies dwindle and coal continues to be vilified. Again, Obama equates dominance in clean energy as the key to our economic future—sounds reasonable to us.