State of the Union: Good Comments, Tough Decisions

From the President’s State of the Union address:

[To] create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.) And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. (Applause.)

 

Very positive words on nuclear power. Now let’s see the permitting and political muscle from the Administration to move those “safe, clean nuclear power plants” to reality.

As for a comprehensive climate bill, passage seems increasingly unlikely in 2010. What is possible is a power play by the imperial EPA — the Administration — to impose a regulatory regime to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a policy decision that correctly belongs with Congress.

The President did not mention the EPA in his speech last night.

President Obama is certainly right in saying it’s time for “making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”

And yet, the Minerals Management Service just signalled that the agency would delay action on Outer Continental Shelf energy development 50 miles beyond Virginia’s coast. From Reuters, “Virginia senators slam delay in offshore drilling:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Virginia’s two U.S. senators on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to carry out a previous plan to lease almost 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) in federal waters off the state’s coastline to oil and natural gas companies.

The lawmakers said in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that recent comments by a department official that the Virginia lease sale originally planned for late 2011 would be delayed until 2012 at the earliest are frustrating given that drilling creates jobs and needed energy supplies.

President Obama clearly acknowledged the critical economic importance of energy development in his State of the Union address on Wednesday. To demonstrate his seriousness, to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, it’s time to actually make and implement “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”

UPDATE (5:15 p.m.): Jane Van Ryan at the American Petroleum Institute has reaction from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and more on the possible delay of OCS energy development, “Will DOI delay Virginia’s offshore drilling?

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