State of the Union: Text of President’s Energy Statement

Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy
Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

This is an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, delivered Feb. 12, 2013:

Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.  After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to control our own energy future.  We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.  (Applause.)  We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it.  We produce more natural gas than ever before — and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it.  And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  (Applause.)  Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.  (Applause.)

Now, the good news is we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth.  I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.  But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.  (Applause.)  I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it.  And we’ve begun to change that.  Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America.  So let’s generate even more.  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.

Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence.  We need to encourage that.  And that’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.  (Applause.)  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.

In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.  So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.  If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.  Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.

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.  (Applause.)  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.

Following the address, the Natural Resource Defense Council conducted an overnight poll and found that  67% of Americans approved of the comments Barack Obama made in his speech. Obama’s comments on climate change particularly struck a chord with voters:  62% agree with Obama that we must do more to combat climate change for the sake of our children and our future. And 57% think Obama should make preparing for the consequences of climate change a priority during his second term. On both of those counts seniors are particularly concerned about addressing the impact climate change could have on future generations- 61% of them think this should be a key focus area for Obama during his last four years in office.

Voters stand with the President in believing that the extreme weather events of the last year were not freak coincidences and that they should stand as a call to action on the issue of climate change. 58% of voters think the country needs to do more to address climate change, and 60% think the President should use his authority to reduce dangerous carbon pollution. Pivotal female voters — 63% — are particularly supportive of the President taking the lead on this matter.

Americans are concerned about climate change in general. 65% consider it to be a problem, including 58% of independent voters. 55% think it is already a problem now, rather than something that will be an issue in the future, and voters are particularly concerned about the extreme weather events and negative effects on people’s health that climate change is bringing. Against that backdrop Americans were looking for President Obama to speak out on climate change last night, and they’re glad he did.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,218 registered voters following the State of the Union address. The margin of error for the survey is +/-2.8%.

EDF launches TV campaign

In response to President Obama’s proposals to fight climate change, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is launching a multi-state TV ad campaign to support that goal.

“The President knows carbon pollution is leading to costly storms, more asthma, and dangerous changes to our climate,” said EDF climate communications director Keith Gaby. “Right now there are no limits on this kind of pollution from some of its largest sources, and we are very encouraged that the President recognizes the need to take action. We strongly support the President’s goal of reducing carbon pollution. This ad campaign is intended to show the American public what’s at stake.”


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