Obama to tout natural gas benefits in State of Union

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:41pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama talks to the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 23, 2012.     REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama talks to the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup champions the Boston Bruins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will encourage the country's booming natural gas output in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, while defending his administration's energy record, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Obama was expected to devote a significant portion of his speech slated for 9 p.m. EST Tuesday calling for a "new era for American energy," which will include promoting domestic natural gas production, according to documents provided to Democratic party sources.

U.S. natural gas output has grown sharply in recent years thanks to advances in drilling techniques that have unlocked massive shale reserves.

Obama has repeatedly stressed the importance of domestic natural gas output, pointing to natural gas as a possible area of compromise for Democrats and Republicans.

But, the administration has also raised the ire of the oil and gas industry by moving forward with new regulations of the drilling that companies argue could hamper future development. He has also twice delayed the Canada-to-Texas Keystone oil sands pipeline.

Environmentalists and some landowners near shale gas wells argue that the recent shale boom is polluting air and water and needs greater federal oversight.

Obama administration officials have said that while natural gas production is important to the U.S. energy future, it must be done safely.

The White House is weighing including a natural gas production goal the speech, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Obama's address will also focus on the importance of not sacrificing environmental protections and investments in clean energy during this time of budget constraints and concerns about job creation, said Elgie Holstein, senior director for strategic planning at the Environmental Defense Fund.

"We're anticipating that the president will make a pointed defense of the fact that taking care of our environment and building clean energy future is another form of investment in America's economic future," Holstein said.

Transforming the U.S. economy by investing in clean energy innovation has been a central theme for the administration since Obama took office in 2009.

Republicans have blasted Obama for focusing on clean energy sources, such as wind and solar, to the detriment of fossil fuels, which they argue are still needed to fuel the U.S. economy.

The high profile collapse of Solyndra, the solar panel maker, after receiving more than $500 million in loan aid from the Obama administration also provided ammunition to critics who say the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the energy sector.

Still, Obama officials contend that the United States can not afford to fall behind developing nations such as China and India when it comes to green energy.

Facing an election in November, Obama will likely tout his commitment to energy independence.

"President Obama can tell a very positive story about his energy policies," said Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow at the liberal think tank, Center for American Progress.

Heather Zichal, a White House adviser on energy and climate change, released an editorial last week highlighting rising domestic oil and natural gas production, as well as falling oil imports under Obama.

Zichal highlighted proposed fuel economy standards that would push average fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon across U.S. fleets in the coming decade, cutting oil consumption by an estimated 2.2 million barrels a day by 2025.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (8)
ThinkFirst1 wrote:
Not again!

He tried to push this on behalf of T. Boone Pickens before

Meanwhile we have lots of other options Obama refuses to get out of the way of – presumably because they have not donated sufficiently to his campaign – it is the Chicago Way.

Jan 23, 2012 8:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Ecatdotcom wrote:
” Still, Obama officials contend that the United States can not afford to fall behind developing nations such as China and India when it comes to green energy. ”

Wow, same old, same old, we had THORIUM since the 1940′s USA want build bombs instead.

Still can use THORIUM. India is….

Wow, same old, same old (“NASA put out video, ecat is real”) we IGNORE IT. Where all the so called GREEN “environmentalist”. No there just Teet sucking corporate environmentalist bolster, “Wind, Solar, Thermal” AKA no change technology. Shear GARBAGE!

Wow, same old, same old. All sides of this issue ARE corrupt, From my point view you all seem to CARE ABOUT ONE THING, your name in lights.

SHAME ON ALL OF YOU. Wake up. LENR, any one tells you not real, punch them right in the face and tell them too look it up on JLN Labs. Build the dame thing your self.

Jan 23, 2012 8:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
IrateNate wrote:
“…if action is not taken to reduce the environmental impact accompanying the very considerable expansion of shale gas production expected across the country – perhaps as many as 100,000 wells over the next several decades – there is a real risk of serious environmental consequences causing a loss of public confidence that could delay or stop this activity.”
U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production in its Nov. 16, 2011

Blocking the Keystone Pipeline was for “purely environmental” reasons, but Obama now thinks he might promote fracking as a reelection tool, going against his own DOE report, then its all OK?

Jan 23, 2012 8:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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