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Why Obama Went Small on Energy and Climate Why Obama Went Small on Energy and Climate

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Why Obama Went Small on Energy and Climate

Why Obama Went Small on Energy and Climate



That was apparently President Obama's mantra when it came to his relatively few comments on energy and climate issues in his State of the Union Tuesday night.

He gave a full-throttled endorsement of natural gas both as an economic driver and as a tool to cut carbon emissions. The plentiful supplies of this cleaner-burning fossil fuel are doing both of these things, regardless of Obama. As president, he might as well cheer from the driver's seat of the good-news train.

Obama mentioned only in passing—and not by name—EPA's regulations to cut carbon emissions. Why throw gasoline on a fire, which could endanger Senate Democrats defending red-state seats?


He didn't mention the Keystone XL pipeline, fossil-fuel exports, wind power, biofuels, nuclear energy, and coal. He went big on what he knew he could in a (mostly) politically benign way—natural gas—and went small on everything else.

Other conflicts can wait another day.

Amy Harder


By Clare Foran (@ckmarie) and Ben Geman (@Ben_Geman)


JUSTICE DEPARTMENT URGES JUDGE TO MAINTAIN BP CONTRACTS SUSPENSION. The Obama administration is pressing a federal court to continue BP's suspension from receiving new federal contracts, arguing the oil giant hasn't shown that it's a responsible contractor.

OBAMA DEFENDS 'ALL OF THE ABOVE' ENERGY PLAN. In his State of the Union, the president rebuffed environmentalists who want him to abandon his support for domestic oil-and-gas drilling.

GREENS DISMAYED BY OBAMA'S NOD TO 'ALL OF THE ABOVE.' The Sierra Club and other environmental groups contend that fossil-fuel development undercuts the president's climate agenda.

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HOUSE REPUBLICANS PUSH BACK ON PRESIDENT'S ENERGY-PRODUCTION CLAIMS. Lawmakers say the president unjustly attempted to take credit for booming fossil-fuel production in the State of the Union address.

ADMINISTRATION CRITICS KEEP UP PRESSURE ON KEYSTONE. Energy-industry proponents in Congress continue to trot out the pipeline, despite the fact that the president made no mention of the project in his annual address.

LANDRIEU WADES INTO EXPORT DEBATE. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she is 'certain' that legislation will have to be introduced to lift the current ban on crude-oil exports.

REMNANTS OF WEST VIRGINIA CHEMICAL SPILL TURN TO FORMALDEHYDE. The chemical, which is a known carcinogen, has been found in the water supply in some areas of the state.

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT WORSENS. Dozens of communities within the state are on track to run out of water in a 60- to 120-day time frame.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS INTRODUCE CALIFORNIA WATER BILL. The Golden State's GOP delegation in the House put forward legislation aimed at addressing the state's water shortage.

LOW GAS PRICES MAY THREATEN CASE FOR CRUDE EXPORTS. Some experts predict that if the U.S. ban on crude exports is lifted, the recent trend of falling gas prices would reverse.


WHAT'S THE STATE OF OBAMA'S ENERGY AND CLIMATE AGENDA? How important is the president's State of the Union address to his climate and energy agenda?

"We applaud the president for acknowledging the important role natural gas plays in America's economy and, in particular, for recognizing how natural gas is driving a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing, creating good-paying American jobs, generating revenues, reducing emissions and lowering consumer energy prices." -Don Santa, president, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America

"Investments in scientific research and development in the United States have led to innovations that have grown our economy and improved our way of life. Despite these critical contributions, scientific research is critically underfunded and lingering cuts from last year's sequester pose a huge threat to America's capacity for innovation. But, as we heard from President Obama in tonight's State of the Union, it is time for the United States to 'unleash the next generation of American discovery." -Christine McEntee, executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders


EXPORTS HEARING. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on opportunities and challenges associated with lifting the ban on U.S. crude-oil exports.

NUCLEAR SAFETY HEARING. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee will hold joint hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's implementation of the Fukushima near-term task force recommendations and nuclear safety.

CLIMATE CONFERENCE. The National Council for Science and the Environment will hold the 14th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment with the theme of building climate solutions.

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