President Obama sets agenda for renewable energy policy

It is clear from his speech that the president’s top priority is to pass cap and trade legislation. It is notable that he did not directly address it by that name. Probably because cap and trade is not very popular, often referred to by critics as ‘cap and tax’. He does not have the votes in the senate to pass this legislation as he noted:

“The House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and there is currently a plan in the Senate — a plan that was developed with ideas from Democrats and Republicans — that would achieve the same goal. And, Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. (Applause.) I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can. (Applause.) I will work with anyone to get this done — and we will get it done.”

To get his cap and trade bill passed he is trying to add energy development measures to develop off-shore oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. The BP oil spill in the Gulf has made this more difficult as it has stiffened the opposition to any off-shore drilling, leaving the president less incentives to win votes for his cap and trade legislation:

“Now, I understand that we can’t end our dependence on fossil fuels overnight. That’s why I supported a careful plan of offshore oil production as one part of our overall energy strategy. But we can pursue such production only if it’s safe, and only if it’s used as a short-term solution while we transition to a clean energy economy.
It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants. It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.”

The Natural Gas Act, legislation that would provide incentives to produce cars and trucks that run on domestically produced natural gas and build filling stations for natural gas is already in Congress. It is being held up and incorporated into the Cap and Trade legislation.

President Obama is holding the Natural Gas Act hostage to get his top political agenda, cap and trade passed. The Natural Gas Act alone would actually do a lot to help his stated agenda by reducing our production of carbon dioxide, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating millions of high paying jobs in this country. It is clear that these ‘top priorities’ of the president are all secondary to a European Style Cap and Trade system, that is so unpopular that he can’t even call it cap and trade:

“But the only way the transition to clean energy will ultimately succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future — if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed. And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.”

No, cap and trade is not the only way to transition to a clean energy future. The Natural Gas Act would do the same thing and it has popular support. Very few members of congress will vote against American jobs and for more foreign oil.

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