Energy, climate issues are in speech forefront

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While stakeholders on both sides of the aisle expect President Obama to address the nation’s changing energy landscape and booming oil production in his State of the Union speech, they have very different ideas of how he should go about it.

A top oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, hopes Obama will reiterate or affirm his “all of the above” energy strategy, which has come under fire by green groups in recent weeks. 

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“All of the above” means the continual push of sources like coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas, along with renewable energies. 

“I think he should also talk about job opportunities and jobs being added by oil and gas, as well as hydraulic fracturing,” said Khary Cauthen, senior director of federal relations at the petroleum institute. “And how it’s changed the picture of U.S. domestic production, which has begun the renaissance of U.S. manufacturing.”

Given that U.S. energy production is undergoing more changes than in past years, Cauthen said he expects Obama to address the phenomenon.

The green group Environmental Defense Fund expects Obama to take a “victory lap” for the changes in energy production.

“I expect that the president will take a victory lap on the reductions in imported energy and the fact that America is reemerging as an international energy power in terms of its oil and gas development,” said Elgie Holstein of the fund.

“But at the same time, he should warn of dangers of failing to act to address climate change.”

The green group wants Obama to press Congress to not oppose the critical greenhouse gas emissions limits on power plants and warn of the economic instabilities that will follow, if the U.S. doesn’t act on climate change.

“I hope the president will use the State of the Union to restate why it is that the long-term energy transition that he has championed is so important to the country,” Holstein said.

“Environmental groups realize the president is under a great deal of pressure from Congress, and the State of the Union is a great opportunity to state reasons for continuing to take a strong stand for environment and climate issues,” he said.