Obama sends mixed messages on energy

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David Holt
President, Consumer Energy Alliance
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      David Holt

      David Holt is president of the non-profit organization, Consumer Energy Alliance. Consumer Energy Alliance was formed to help support the thoughtful utilization of all domestic energy resources to improve domestic energy security and reduce consumer prices. The mission of Consumer Energy Alliance is to improve consumer understanding of our nation's energy security, including the need to reduce reliance on imported oil and natural gas, maintain reasonable energy prices for consumers, and continue efforts to diversify our energy resources.

      As part of its efforts to build dialogue between consumers and the energy sector, Consumer Energy Alliance played a key role in the recent Mineral Management Service’s (MMS) Five Year Plan for the Outer Continental Shelf. Working with an expansive coalition of energy and consumer groups, CEA helped deliver tens of thousands of public comments in support of thoughtful offshore oil & gas development – including the areas offshore Alaska and Virginia.

      Consumer Energy Alliance now has more than 115 consumer and energy groups as part of its Alliance. Through its various activities, CEA works to continue to expand dialogue and develop joint messaging among the energy and consuming sectors.

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama spoke of the need to “out-innovate” and “out-build” the rest of the world. He pledged to never put unnecessary burdens on business. And, he recognized the crucial role that the energy industry plays in the national economy, saying that we would need to tap a wide range of sources to meet our future energy needs.

Though his support for expanded renewable energy, nuclear power, clean coal and natural gas is an excellent step in the right direction, the president did not acknowledge how critical oil is to our energy future. The oil industry remains the foundation of the country’s energy sector, the source of most of our energy-related jobs, and the key to affordable and stable gasoline prices for all Americans.

We are pleased to see Obama so focused on the need to create more jobs, but we are dismayed by his failure to acknowledge that creating and preserving jobs requires supporting those industries that employ workers. We were hoping the president might discuss energy policy in the Gulf of Mexico, a region that has been devastated: first by an official drilling moratorium and now by what seems to be an unofficial policy of limiting drilling activity by slowing down the permitting process.

President Obama went on to recognize what those of us at CEA have been saying for years: That it will take all kinds of energy to carry the country into the future. He understands that it would be foolhardy for such a large and growing country to stake its future on a single source of power. Obama referenced solar, wind and nuclear as well as natural gas — which he said would all be important parts of our energy policy going forward. We agree. But we can only interpret his expressed support of natural gas at the same time he distanced himself from the oil sector as a bit of a mixed message.

The nation needs clarity, not rhetoric. It needs jobs, not job-killing regulations. It needs an energy policy that will help ensure American individuals and industries will be able to afford the energy they need to support their households and engage in business that will contribute to a thriving economy. And we are still waiting.

David Holt is the president of Consumer Energy Alliance.

  • Dave Harbour

    The words in the President’s State of the Union Message last night may have been designed to comfort Americans that bi-partisan steps are underway to reinforce economic recovery. Yet the federal government continues unchecked — along with certain NGO allies — to attack the primary basis for American wealth and employment: rational, essential natural resource development. The tools employed in that conscious and deliberate attack include a web of overlapping judicial, permitting, statutory and regulatory obsticles. It is like watching Gulliver being pulled, every day–by a thousand thongs–ever closer to the ground.

    At http://www.northerngaspipelines.com, We strive to accumulate the facts about natural resource issues affecting the development of Northern Gas Pipelines. We hope that our public service effort in some small way may assist American and Canadian citizens in understanding the complex challenges confronting this generation, threatening the next one.

    Kudos to David Holt and Consumer Energy Alliance!