President Obama scored a lot of points in our book for his discussion of national energy policy in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, starting with the prominence he gave the topic in his speech and the time he devoted to it. Energy policy is critical to our national economy and the President did a good job of explaining why it is so important to a country finally showing signs of recovery.
Most notably, we’re heartened to hear Obama pledge to expand production of domestic oil and natural gas – both onshore and off – and renewable energy. President Obama was, of course, correct in saying that it is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and by committing to increasing fuel production inside our borders, he is taking a positive step in that direction. For too long, too much of our offshore oil reserves have been inaccessible. And while natural gas production from shale rock is booming, the sector has been mired in uncertainty over future policy. By committing to producing more of this gas and doing so safely, the President struck the right tone.
Now, we don’t agree 100% with everything President Obama said. When he stated that American oil production is at its highest level in eight years, he failed to mention that it can take years for production to come online after lengthy approvals, permitting and exploration. Clearly some of that production for which Mr. Obama is taking credit reflects the policies of prior administrations. Under the current Administration, permitting in the Gulf of Mexico has been slow, even after the official moratorium on offshore drilling was lifted. Meanwhile, up in Alaska plans for offshore drilling have been stalled for years due to bureaucratic delays and administrative challenges.
There’s also the matter of what remained unsaid on Tuesday evening. No mention was made of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the major energy infrastructure project – recently rejected by the Obama Administration – which would have provided a reliable source of Canadian oil and generated thousands of jobs for Americans in construction, maintenance, and operation. Clearly such a decision is inconsistent with President Obama’s stated focus on economic growth and job creation.
So while Mr. Obama clearly talked the talk on Tuesday evening, we’re hopeful he’ll realize it’s time to walk the walk. Energy policy affects all of us in so many ways: from the amount we pay to fuel our cars and heat our homes to the jobs and infrastructure creation that domestic energy production supports, to the security it affords us. These are all complex issues that cannot be fully addressed in a single speech.
Still, standing up in front of the country and making such a strong commitment to domestic oil and gas production, as well as investments in renewable energy, is a major step in the right direction, and we commend the President for taking such a strong stance.