Yesterday President Obama presented his administration’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future” during a speech at Georgetown University. According to the blog post on the White House’s website, the president’s point was that “we need to make ourselves more secure and control our energy future by harnessing all of the resources that we have available and embracing a diverse energy portfolio.”
The post went on to say that the president “pledged that by a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut [foreign oil imports] by one-third, and put forward a plan to secure America’s energy future by producing more oil at home and reducing our dependence on oil by leveraging cleaner, alternative fuels and greater efficiency.”
From President Obama’s remarks, he hinted at the strife in the Middle East as well as the nuclear power concerns emanating from Japan as reasons to solidify domestic energy sources. Running counter to political intuition, the president noted “There are no quick fixes.” He went on to say “We’re going to have to think long term.” This is difficult when the political lifespan of a president often depends on mid-season elections, like the 2010 one that saw his party lose a significant number of seats. Even with a majority, passing legislation on the energy and climate fronts proved untenable.
Obama was blunt about the realities regarding the economy’s dependence on fossil fuel. “America is going to be still dependent on oil in making its economy work.” In order to reduce dependence in the long run, he argued that two steps need to occur, “first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency.” In his comments, the president tapped Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu to work on the issue of extracting natural gas in an environmentally friendly manner, i.e. without polluting water source by methods like hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking.
In pointing to Brazil as an example of biofuels replacing petroleum, the president made a push for renewable fuels. Citing the Air Force, which according to the president’s remarks, recently used a biofuel replacement for an F-22. He went on to say that the “Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016.” In addition, improved CAFE standards should reduce oil consumption in this country. Obama also touched on electrification of the automobile fleet as part of the solution.
Reiterating comments made in his State of the Union address earlier this year, Obama touched on clean sources of electricity. “Today, about two-fifths of our electricity come from clean energy sources. . . . By 2035, 80 percent of our electricity needs to come from a wide range of clean energy sources — renewables like wind and solar, efficient natural gas. And, yes, we’re going to have to examine how do we make clean coal and nuclear power work.” In a sad testament to how far this country has fallen (or other countries have come), he also mentioned that
in the 1980s, America was home to more than 80 percent of the world’s wind capacity, 90 percent of the world’s solar capacity. We were the leaders in wind. We were the leaders in solar. We owned the clean energy economy in the ‘80s. Guess what. Today, China has the most wind capacity. Germany has the most solar capacity. Both invest more in clean energy than we do, even though we are a larger economy and a substantially larger user of energy. We’ve fallen behind on what is going to be the key to our future.