What President Obama said (and didn't say) about energy


If you didn't catch the President's State of the Union address Tuesday, we've pulled out highlights below on what he had to say about the power grid, energy efficiency, cyber attacks and other energy issues.  Click to page 2 for  reactions from groups that liked what he said, didn't like what he said and/or didn't think he said enough; you'll see comments from a coal state senator, a big NE utility, the nuclear industry, energy efficiency and climate change advocates and more.  And please use the Talk Back form at the bottom of the page to add your own responses. If you want to see the full text of the President's address, you can read it or watch it here.


On climate change...
Now, it's true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late.


Now, the good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.

But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will.


I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.


On renewables...

Now, four years ago, other countries dominated the clean-energy market and the jobs that came with it. And we've begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let's generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. Let's drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.


On natural gas...

Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. That's why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.


That's got to be part of an all-of-the-above plan. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and our water.


On creating an Energy Security Trust...

In fact, much of our newfound energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.


If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let's take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we've put up with for far too long.


On more efficient buildings...

I'm also issuing a new goal for America: Let's cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years.

We'll work with the states to do it. Those states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make that happen.


On repairing aging infrastructure...

America's energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they'd rather locate and hire, a country with deteriorating roads and bridges or one with high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, self- healing power grids.


So, tonight, I propose a "Fix-It-First" program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.


And to make sure taxpayers don't shoulder the whole burden, I'm also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children.


On cyber attacks...
America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber attacks.


Now, we know hackers steal people's identities and infiltrate private e-mails. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.


That's why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information-sharing and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy.


But now -- now Congress must act, as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks. This is something we should be able to get done on a bipartisan basis.

WV Senator disappointed coal wasn't mentioned

"I was disappointed on energy," Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, told reporters. "Not to say a word about coal -- and coal produces about 35 percent of the the nation's energy. When you look at it, you've got to talk about climate, and if you're talking about climate, the United States of America consumes close to one-eighth of the coal that's burned in the world -- you should be finding the technology that helps use it cleanly, and uses it much better and more efficiently. So that was disappointing."


EEI on Obama's Executive Order on Cyber Security

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) shares the President’s goal of protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. As the only industry subject to mandatory and enforceable cybersecurity standards, the electric power sector already is taking significant steps to protect the electric grid and to work closely with the government to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats. The Executive Order represents another step toward improving government-industry coordination, but it does not preclude the need for congressional action to address statutory changes that will improve information sharing and access to classified information that the private sector needs to serve as the first line of defense in the protection of its critical infrastructure. EEI and its members look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to address this national security priority.


Statement from Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan

When the President issued a goal to cut energy waste in half, he advanced the Alliance's Energy 2030 plan, unveiled Thursday in Washington. Twenty national energy experts spent a year developing a plan to double U.S. energy productivity, and it took the White House just days to publicly embrace it. We are especially heartened to hear the President announce the new energy efficiency 'Race to the Top' challenge for states - a key recommendation of our bipartisan Energy 2030 plan. The President has spoken. The next big step will be securing Congressional support from both sides of the aisle, and we expect this will happen soon. But we also encourage state and local governments, businesses and the public not to wait. They, too, can start driving energy efficiency now by using the solutions set forth in our Energy 2030 plan. It's time for the U.S. to become a global leader in energy productivity.


National Grid Responds to State of the Union

National Grid commends President Barack Obama for reiterating his vision for America's energy future in his State of the Union speech tonight. As an electric and gas delivery company, National Grid connects people to the energy they use every day, safely. We stand committed to modernizing our infrastructure, helping to deliver a clean energy future and safeguarding our environment for future generations, consistent with President Obama's call to double energy productivity by 2030. In recent years, we and our customers have been adversely impacted by continued extreme weather events, as highlighted by President Obama. National Grid believes we must continue to work with all stakeholders and policy leaders to make our electric and gas systems more resilient to meet our customers' needs and manage future risks... Specifically, we urge the Administration and Congress to support policies that promote energy efficiency, low- and zero-carbon energy sources and technologies; the expansion of smart grid and infrastructure investments; and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. We also encourage policymakers to create incentives for innovation that will position the United States as a global leader in developing and manufacturing the next generation of clean energy technologies.


Comments from Advanced Energy Economy

"With technology and innovation giving us more choices in energy than ever before, this is a critical time for America to seize the opportunity of advanced energy for cost savings, energy security, and economic competitiveness," said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, a national business association. "I applaud President Obama for recognizing the opportunity in reducing energy waste and making all of our energy sources more secure, clean, and affordable. I look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to making the most of it."

NRDC releases post-State of the Union Poll
Sixty-five percent of Americans think that climate change is a serious problem and a substantial majority support President’s Obama using his authority to reduce its main cause, dangerous carbon pollution, according to a national poll of 1,218 registered voters conducted immediately after Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The nationwide survey - the first snapshot taken specifically on the climate agenda Obama outlined in his address to the nation - reveals that a strong majority of Americans are convinced that action is needed soon to reduce a real threat they see in climate disruption. The polls is available at http://www.nrdc.org/
, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8%


Nuclear industry says it's already protected against cyber threats
The Nuclear Energy Institute's Chief Nuclear Officer and Senior Vice President Anthony Pietrangelo, made the following comment about the Cyber Security Executive Order signed Tuesday by President Obama: "Commercial nuclear energy facilities are well protected from possible cyber threats. The nuclear energy industry has been implementing and improving cyber security controls since 2002, and the federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear energy facilities -- the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- has established regulations that thoroughly monitor and inspect cyber security at all U.S. reactors. To ensure our constant readiness, the industry participates with government agencies to be aware of and assess its readiness for emerging cyber threats. Our facilities are essentially cyber islands, in that safety and control systems are not connected to business networks or the Internet. Unlike industries for which two-day data flow is critical, nuclear power plants do not require incoming data flow. Nuclear plants also are protected from grid instability, with multiple backup power supplies that provide for safe shutdown of a reactor in the event of a power blackout. Given that the NRC appropriately exercises authority over the protection of nuclear plant systems from potential cyber threats, it would be counterproductive to have dual oversight of these facilities."


Groups applaud climate change elements of President’s address

Nine progressive groups - Center for American Progress, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and U.S. Climate Action Network - released the following statement in response to the State of the Union address delivered by President Barack Obama: "The American people know President Obama is right. We must take bold action now to reduce industrial carbon pollution from power plants and other large sources that are fueling the climate disruption we’re already enduring, including heat waves, drought, fierce wildfires and the destruction from storms like Hurricane Sandy. We applaud President Obama for restating in no uncertain terms, in tonight’s State of the Union address, the obligation he and the nation have to address climate change. The President has the authority to act and we, and the American people, are ready to work with him to face this great challenge of our time. In fact, more than 3.2 million comments have been collected from Americans that support limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.”


President offers no leadership on oil and gas in SOTU

From London come these comments from Matt Jurecky, GlobalData's Global Director of Energy Research and Consulting: "With an economy resigned to crude oil prices hovering near US$100 per barrel and natural gas prices having maintained a sub US$5.00 per million British thermal units pattern for over two years, President Obama blanked the oil and gas industry in his annual State of the Union address. In his speech before both houses of the US Congress, President Obama proposed diverting tax revenues from the oil and gas industry to fund transportation fuel alternatives through an Energy Security Trust.... Major issues related to the oil and gas industry such as progressing fracking regulation, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and exporting domestic LNG went unmentioned in the address. An absence of these issues from the administration’s agenda and their lack of priority mean that the private sector will be required to continue leading the charge on replacing crude imports from unfriendly nations, advancing safer drilling of unconventional reservoirs, and creating a mega-industry in natural gas.”