Energy Plays Major Role in President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union

President asks Congress to extend tax credits for renewable energy and to end tax giveaways for oil companies that are already turning massive profits

01-25-2012 // Miles Grant
Obama speaking

President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, asking Congress to extend tax credits for renewable energy and to end tax giveaways for oil companies that are already turning massive profits.

“The National Wildlife Federation’s 4 million supporters from across the political spectrum want clean energy and they want leaders who'll face down special interests to deliver it,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Coming off a year in 2011 that saw global warming-fueled extreme weather cause record damage, action on clean energy is more critically needed than ever.”

Poll after poll shows bipartisan support for clean energy and ending tax giveaways for dirty energy. On Wednesday, ConocoPhillips reported profits were up 70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, while Occidental Petroleum reported profits up 33 percent.

President Obama lauded the comeback of the America’s auto industry, which has added 160,000 jobs since the 2009 recovery plan supported by the National Wildlife Federation. The Obama administration hopes to keep rolling in the right direction with new fuel efficiency standards.

In some good news for Americans concerned about how natural gas fracking will impact their drinking water, President Obama announced he’d require all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals used. The National Wildlife Federation will continue pushing for Congress to pass similar requirements industry-wide. The new guidelines show the same prudence Obama displayed by rejecting Congress’ accelerated timeline for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

President Obama reiterated his support for new mercury pollution rules unveiled last month. “I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean,” said President Obama.

But President Obama also called for an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes expanded oil and gas drilling, despite the fact that Congress has failed to pass any legislation to improve drilling safety in response to the Gulf oil disaster.

“I’m particularly concerned about plans to move forward with drilling in Arctic waters. Are we really going to do it safely and do it right, or are oil companies going to try to do it on the cheap?” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re going where no oil company has gone before. And if the oil industry couldn’t stop a spill in calm Gulf waters, how are they going to stop a gusher under cold, rough Arctic Seas in a region where there’s no safety infrastructure in place?”

“Now the focus shifts to Congress. Are members willing to tackle special interests in the coal, oil and gas industries to break America’s dependence on dirty fuels that threaten wildlife and public health, weaken our energy security, and deliver multi-billion-dollar profits for big polluters?” asked Larry Schweiger. “Or will 2012 be a repeat of 2011, when the House took an incredible 191 anti-environment votes and Congress failed to act on Gulf Coast restoration, strengthening the Clean Water Act, or extending renewable energy tax credits?”