Energy News for January 21, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on January 21, 2015

Today’s State of the Union Brief:

  • In his second-to-last State of the Union address, Obama spent most of his time on energy talking about the threats of climate change. He directly addressed a Republican talking point on not being qualified to evaluate whether climate change is happening by saying: “Well, I’m not a scientist, either.” Obama then cited the “really good scientists” at NASA, NOAA, major universities and the Pentagon that have said climate change poses an immediate threat.
  • Obama cheered America’s new found energy independence, saying that the country is number one in gas, oil and wind power, with exponential growth in solar power production and lower gas prices. Most of those occurrences are not a direct effect of Obama policies, but due to booming oil and gas production thanks partly to fracking, a drop in global oil demand, and a global oversupply of oil.
  • Finally, Obama took a dig at Republicans on the Keystone XL pipeline, without mentioning the project specifically. He called on Congress to “set our sights higher than a single pipeline” and focus on an infrastructure plan the president said will create thirty times as many jobs per year.
  • Overall, Obama arguedthat the country had emerged from the economic struggles that have lingered throughout his presidency. But he said the government needed to do more to help middle class Americans “get their fair shot.” To do that, he proposed several major domestic policy programs, like making community college free and expanding childcare options.

Today’s Washington and Business Brief:

  • A keystone amendment to end the federal ban on oil exports, introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), may not get a vote on the floor. Read the story from Morning Consult.
  • The Senate overwhlemingly approved a stripped-down energy efficiency amendment to the keystone pipeline approval bill. More from the New York Times.
  • Oil prices inched above $48 today, but analysts say the outlook is bleak for at least the next six months. CNBC reports.
  • OBAMA PUTS GOP IN CLIMATE HOT SEAT: President Barack Obama launched an aggressive climate change assault on Republicans last night, tapping into an issue that Democrats hope will dog the GOP into 2016. Obama used his annual State of the Union address to Congress to directly confront Republican leaders who’ve sought to sidestep the debate over whether climate change is occurring and if human activity was to blame. Darren Goode tells you what you need to know about last night’s SOTU:
  • FACT CHECK: POLITICO fact-checks some of Obama’s statements, including his claim that “America is number one in wind power.” We are – on generation, that is, the figure the administration and industry say is more important. The U.S. in 2013, and likely again in 2014, generated more electricity from wind power than any other nation. China, however, leads the U.S. in installed capacity, especially since U.S. installations have dropped significantly in the past couple of years. Check out the fact check:
  • RECORD MENTIONS FOR ‘CLIMATE’: Climate received a record number of mentions by Obama last night, four. The previous high was three mentions, in 2010, 2013 and 2014. Obama’s all-time SOTU low? Zero mentions in 2011.
  • Word count: Energy, 2 mentions; climate, 4; environment, 0; “all of the above,” 0; “energy independence,” 0; natural gas, 1; oil, x; gasoline, 1; solar: 1; wind, 1; Keystone XL (specifically), 0; “a single oil pipeline,” 1; “carbon pollution,” 1, “converting sunlight into liquid fuel,” 1; NOAA, 1; NASA, 1.
  • Also not mentioned: Energy efficiency, coal, nuclear (as a source of energy), biofuels, methane, electric vehicles.
  • Manchin – Too different: “He and I are never going to be on the same page” when it comes to climate and the EPA, even though Obama talked a more moderate game when he was a senator from Illinois, Sen. Joe Manchin said. “When he became president, he changed. We’re just on different pages.”
  • Gardner – Too polarizing: “His comments on Keystone were absolutely polarizing. In fact there were many elements of the speech that were polarizing, and it’s disappointing that he spent so much time polarizing issues. It seems to me like the first half of the speech ignored the second half of the speech. … On energy I think the president is simply off-base. The American people support the Keystone pipeline, yet he mocked support of the Keystone pipeline.”
  • Johnson – Good thing for Saudi Arabia: “I’m shocked,” Sen. Ron Johnson quipped when asked about Obama’s politically fraught mentions of climate change. “I have no idea why Democrats and liberals are opposed to cheaper energy. … We’re fortunate that Saudi Arabia is flooding the market” and helping drive down gasoline prices.
  • Portman – Where’s the efficiency? ‘I wish he had talked about energy efficiency,” Sen. Rob Portman said. “That’s one where if he really wants Republicans and Democrats to work together, there’s some consensus there and I think that was an opportunity lost.”
  • Whitehouse – ‘Not a scientist’ part was nice: “I think some of the stuff that [Republicans] say is best responded to light-heartedly,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said of the president’s exhoriation of “not a scientist” remarks. “And I thought that was a good moment in the speech for the president.”




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