Absence of climate change in Obama address a sign of the times

Obama’s 2010 State of the Union also called for climate legislation as a way to help create “clean energy jobs.” He said boosting these jobs means expanding use of nuclear power, and investments in biofuels and other technologies. He added: “And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

This year, according to Obama’s prepared remarks, there is no mention of climate change, global warming or greenhouse gases, although he does call for a massive increase in the types of energy sources that are needed to curb greenhouse gases (without mentioning these gases specifically).

The absence of climate discussions may reflect the political landscape on Capitol Hill. A big cap-and-trade and energy bill cleared the House in the summer of 2009 but sputtered in the Senate, and even a scaled-back version was not brought up for a vote in 2010. Now, bills to impose mandatory emissions curbs are dead in the current Congress. 

Climate advocates are playing defense against legislative attacks by Republican and some centrist Democrats on the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rules.

Obama’s speech Tuesday does, however, appear to make an oblique reference to climate when it notes that the upcoming budget plan he’ll submit to Congress would help protect the planet. “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people,” Obama said.