Obama to lay out plan for energy security in concerted effort to shift the public dialogue

Amanda Carey Contributor
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In a speech Wednesday at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., President Obama will outline his plan for America’s energy security, and according to senior White House officials, forge a new course in public discussion on the future of the country’s oil supply and energy independence.

The speech marks the beginning of a concerted effort from the administration to communicate a satisfying energy plan in the wake of increasingly broad criticism of its approach to regulations and offshore drilling.

In a press call with reporters, one senior White House official said the president would stress the point that the U.S. sees an energy crisis every few years and every time, politicians offer a variety of solutions that solves only short-term, rather than long-term problems.

Obama is also expected to say in his speech that if the country follows his energy agenda, oil imports will be reduced by a third in a little over a decade.

The energy agenda focuses on four key areas: incentives for rapid, responsible domestic oil production; incentives for natural gas, developing biofuels (like ethanol, which according one White House official, has already made a “significant contribution”); and efficiency in car and truck emissions standards.

Obama will also reaffirm his commitment to the “aggressive but achievable” goal he laid out in his State of the Union to reach 80 percent of energy from alternative sources by 2025.

“What you’ve seen from this administration from day one is we are using administrative authority aggressively to help achieve reduction [of oil] across the board,” said a White House official.

The administration has been hammered hard in recent weeks by a bipartisan coalition on Capitol Hill and industry members who view Obama’s energy agenda, and specifically the de-facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, as harmful to U.S. jobs and economic progress.

Most recently, the National Association of Manufacturers launched a campaign blasting the federal government’s approach to energy. The multi-million dollar media blitz will take place in Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and will target “job killing” regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The president’s speech comes the day after the Republican-controlled House ramped up legislative attacks on the Obama Administration’s energy agenda. Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced three new proposals Tuesday as part of the new American Energy Initiative, to get rid of barriers to domestic oil production.

The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing now Act, and the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act would establish a timeline for the administration to consider drilling permits, require the administration to conduct lease sales in the Gulf, and lift the de-facto moratorium by forcing the administration to act on the 2012-2012 lease plans, respectively.

“These bills will directly reverse Obama Administration actions that have locked-up America’s vast offshore oil and natural gas resources,” said Hastings. “In contrast to the President’s drill to nowhere plan, this is a drill smart plan..With thousands unemployed in the Gulf region and gasoline prices nearing $4 per gallon, swift action must be taken to reverse course and increase U.S. energy production.”

Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, responded positively to the bills by saying they will make use of the 40 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf and the 14 billion barrels of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

“These resources can, and should, be producing thousands of well-paying jobs, providing millions of barrels of oil per day to our nation, and bringing in billions in royalties to the cash-strapped federal government,” said Pyle.  “Instead, the Obama Administration has kept most of it under lock and key and indicated that they will remain locked up until at least 2017.”

Also on Capitol Hill, the Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on an amendment introduced by Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky based on legislation offered by Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma to block the EPA regulations. The date of the vote, however, has shifted several times.

Votes could also come on two Democratic amendments. One, introduced by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana would exempt small polluters from the regulations. The other, from Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia would delay implementation of the regulations for two years.