Obama touts 'responsible' energy development measures, climate goals

WASHINGTON Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:17pm EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled new measures on Tuesday to address climate change that aim to promote the country's abundant shale gas and oil resources while balancing concerns about their impact on the environment.

In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama highlighted several new and existing measures to expand clean energy production, chiefly by using executive powers that are not dependent on action by a divided Congress.

One subject not on the agenda in Tuesday's speech was the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, which is still awaiting a decision from the administration.

Among the proposals cited by Obama, among a series of measures not needing Congressional action, was a plan for new incentives to encourage the country's fleet of medium and heavy duty trucks to run on natural gas and alternative fuels.

Those incentives will complement new fuel efficiency standards that the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation will issue later this year for heavy duty trucks, the White House said.

The president also said he wants to boost the use of natural gas in transportation and industry but also said his administration was working to develop new environmental standards for oil and gas drilling on public lands, and to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Obama also said the EPA will continue to work with states and cities to develop new carbon pollution standards for the country's power plants - the largest domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions.

New emissions standards for the country's existing power plants were the centerpiece of Obama's Climate Action Plan, unveiled in June as a blueprint to carry out the climate goals outlined in last year's State of the Union speech.

Obama's speech aimed to strike a balance between his administration's climate goals and championing the benefits created by one of the biggest oil and gas booms in the history of the United States.

In November, the United States - the world's largest oil consumer - reached an important milestone when its production of crude oil outpaced imports for the first time in two decades.

The shale oil revolution reversed declining output and gave fresh momentum to the oil industry in states such as North Dakota and Texas. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Jim Loney)

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