Obama finally pitched an energy tent big enough to attract Republicans
George Will, the conservative columnist who predicted Obama would try to “stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate” with his State of the Union speech, must be smoking a cigarette in bed by now. Not only did Obama body-check the right with his proposal to eliminate subsidies for oil companies, he also declared that the U.S. could reach 80 percent “clean” energy by 2035, as long as it includes all the energy sources Will and and his colleagues love to love: nuclear, natural gas, and “clean coal.”
Everybody in the pool: As Grist’s own David Roberts points out, all that “clean energy” really means is “not dirty coal.” One analysis even suggests we could replace almost all of our coal burning just by operating existing natural gas plants all-out, so maybe 80 percent by 2035 isn’t so unrealistic after all.
Color me badd: In an email to his mailing list, Michael Shellenberger, head of the Breakthrough Institute and a reasonable proxy for how most of the “non-partisan” think tanks feel about the speech, declared breathlessly:
With last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama has shifted the debate from the partisan climate wars to an expansive energy innovation policy which has the potential to draw support from across the political spectrum.
The fact sheet sent out by the White House, Shellenberg notes, includes proposals for more than twice the $300 billion currently spent on federal breakthrough energy research, a bushel more “Energy Innovation Hubs,” and a ton more cash for research aimed at specific goals — including more-awesome cars, batteries, buildings, and ways to save energy.
It’s getting hot in herre: Last night’s speech didn’t include a single word about climate change, carbon, or warming, says Joe Romm at ClimateProgress. These are uncharted waters: is it possible to solve global warming without talking about global warming? If this is the strongest push on the subject we can expect from a president like Obama, the preliminary answer is: We’re about to find out.