(CNSNews.com) - President Obama stuck to – and expanded -- his green energy agenda during Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech.
But critics say that in doing so, he’s selling out the real energy needs of the United States -- and they say the U.S. needs a pipeline, not a pipe dream when it comes to energy concerns.
“Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more,” Obama said. “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.”
Obama also paid lip service to natural gas and oil industry, with a brief tip of the hat to the fact that a boom in natural gas “has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence.”
“Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence,” Obama said. “We need to encourage that. And 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.”
Obama, in the meantime, even issued what he called “a new goal for America.”
“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,” he said.
But Tim Wigley, president of the Western Energy Alliance, called the president’s hand on the SOTU proposal.
“Time and time again President Obama says the right things publicly when he talks about our nation’s energy and economic potential,” Wigley said.
“However, while touting the success of increased oil and natural gas production in America, he continues to ignore the fact that those increases are almost exclusively on state and private lands, and that federal lands are not keeping pace.”
Wigley noted that Obama only briefly mentioned energy from public lands -- as a pretext for proposing an Energy Security Trust Fund that is designed, according to the president, “to get American cars and trucks off oil for good.”
But Wigley said that the Obama administration is ignoring the fact that unlocking federal lands for further natural gas and shale oil development could help not only our energy outlook – but create thousands of jobs and increase government revenues.
“Responsible development of America’s oil and natural gas resources on federal lands in the West remains one of the most effective yet underutilized solutions to creating jobs and increasing revenue for the federal treasury,” he said.
“We can replicate the energy, economic and employment successes of places like North Dakota if the President would adjust his policies and allow greater regulatory certainty on federal lands,” continued Wigley.
Meanwhile, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on Obama to address the “real” energy concerns of Americans -- by approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
With a stroke of the pen, the president could unleash (a) $7 billion private sector investment,” Upton said. “The Keystone XL pipeline (is) a critical link between Canada’s rich energy supplies and American energy refineries, small businesses, and families. Yet nowhere in this evening’s blueprint for the president’s policy vision was this critical middle-class jobs project.”
The Keystone XL pipeline would bring shale oil from Canada’s tar sands down to American refineries. Though Obama has agreed to let construction begin on a southern leg of the project starting in Cushing, Okla., the president rejected the original proposal for the pipeline in 2011, and the State Department stymied the project by refusing to issue a federal permit.
Pipeline opponents have urged the president to deny the federal permit for the project, which is required because the Canada-to-Texas pipeline crosses an international border.
Some of the most opposition comes from Nebraska. Environmental groups say it would contaminate the Ogallala aquifer, a massive groundwater supply.
But in January, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.
The Republican governor sent a letter to Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying he would allow the pipeline to proceed through his state.