Let’s just say that the President’s energy security speech didn’t go over so well among the communities of interest. The President acknowledged the problem of dependence on oil, but the relatively puny target – reducing foreign oil imports by 1/3 over the next decade and a half – and the emphasis on “finding and producing more oil at home” as one of the two pillars of the strategy didn’t endear him to environmentalists.
Here’s Adam Siegel:
The teleconference opened (and, it seems that the speech will open) with a call to accelerate and increase the production of U.S. oil and natural gas (from existing leases that are not being exploited) sadly reminiscent of the 2008 Republican National Convention’s “Drill, Baby, Drill” chant. In the face of our nation’s challenges, it is as baseless as a core element of policy now as it was then. Simply put, the United States represents over 20 percent of world oil demand (without even counting the oil attributable to U.S. imports from China and elsewhere) while domestic reserves are in the range of two percent of global reserves. Accelerating production from that two percent increases future vulnerability as America’s share of global reserves falls even faster.
“The oil industry holds tens of millions of leases not producing. Massive supplies of american energy just waiting to be tapped.”
Yes, that is a quote from a senior Obama White House official and not something from a Sarah Palin tweet.
The “alternative fuels” highlighted in the speech were natural gas and biofuels, each problematic in their own right. So only energy efficiency really fits into a policy apart from “Republican lite” on energy.
I love Dave Roberts’ headline: “Obama’s energy security plan lacks imagination, ambition, stones.”
My overall impression is of vintage Obama: groping for the Reasonable Path between Two Extremes. Sometimes that trope works, but Obama has leaned on it far, far too often.
In particular, it doesn’t work well for oil. The core truth is that for the U.S., oil problems mostly have to do with supply and oil solutions mostly have to do with demand. America becomes safer from oil by using less. From the Democratic establishment, only retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is telling the public that truth.
Obama is opting instead for the conventional Dem approach, a shapeless blob of supply and demand, old and new, trivial and meaningful, sure to satisfy none of his opponents and activate none of his supporters. Again. I doubt it will rise above the background “blah blah foreign oil” voters have been hearing since the ’70s.
And nominal Obama Administration supporter on many issues, Ezra Klein, wasn’t too thrilled either.
It’s striking that this speech came the same day that the Senate planned a vote on blocking the EPA from greenhouse gas regulation. “EPA” didn’t appear in this speech. At a time when clean air regulation is actually threatened in Congress, Obama, with an eye to 2012, is pushing a weak, formless energy policy that will fail to excite on either side of the aisle. Klein says this gets the politics right, making the President look presidential and floating above Congress’ pugilism. But I agree, “it just won’t do much for the planet.” This isn’t a policy to be implemented so much as a re-election document.
If you want a fact sheet on this, here you go. It’s worth noting that, minutes after the speech, Jeff Merkley and Olympia Snowe released a bill Merkley worked on last year, that would eliminate all oil imports by 2030, not through production, but the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency, green buildings and mass transit. To be clear, some of this is included in the Obama approach, but it’s not foregrounded.
“Make no mistake,” Snowe said in a release, “our government has failed to develop a concrete energy policy that reflects the value independence brings to our economy and our security.”
That didn’t end today.