Obama sends mixed messages on energy

David Holt President, Consumer Energy Alliance
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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.