In his State of the Union message on Tuesday night, President Obama proposed the creation of an “Energy Security Trust” to find alternatives to dependence on oil for the nation’s transportation needs. The trust would be financed from revenue from oil and gas royalties that the federal government collects from companies that drill on federal land. As is customary in State of the Union speeches, Mr. Obama did not give much detail, but plenty of other voices were happy to fill in the blanks on Wednesday morning. The idea has obvious political appeal – using oil revenues to wean the country from oil – but it has a way to go before reaching fruition.
In the first State of the Union address of his new term, President Obama embraced a series of policy trade-offs that fall under the White House’s “all of the above” energy rubric, including the expansion of oil and gas drilling and actions to combat global warming by reinvesting in clean energy technology. The speech reflected positions that emerged quickly over the past year, as the president barnstormed outside the oil hub in Cushing, Okla., and shaped his energy message in preparation for a re-election campaign. His message to Congress again put the energy security gained from more U.S. oil and gas production on the same fleet of energy and environmental prescriptions as technologies designed to replace carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
“As wind generation capacity continues to be added in ERCOT and additional transmission lines are being completed to accommodate that generation, we continue to set new records,” said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. “While wind generation over the course of a day can change very quickly, improved tools help us predict those patterns and enable us to reliably use this resource to its fullest potential.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to testify before a state Senate committee about a key part of his environmental agenda, an offshore wind energy bill that the panel has twice failed to pass. The governor is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Finance Committee. The senate’s president has moved a member of committee to another panel in order to get the votes needed to move the measure to the full Senate, where it has enough sponsors to pass this year.
President Obama is expected to issue an executive order today or tomorrow aimed at bolstering cybersecurity on the electric grid and critical infrastructure, according to industry sources. The White House last year was rumored to be considering an executive order after Congress failed to push through legislation to protect the system. The measure would have set up a special cybersecurity council under the Department of Homeland Security and included voluntary standards for companies and regulations covering especially vital systems
“Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more.” In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama talked up alternative energy. Not only did Obama tout the solar and natural gas industries’ recent gains, he also talked up the amount of wind energy that’s now fueling the country. Did turbines do their jobs, or is this all just hot air?
President Obama showed last night that he was eager to spend his renewed political capital on priorities that he sometimes downplayed during his first four years in office — notably climate change. Obama devoted more than two paragraphs of his State of the Union address to the issue, portraying climate change as a dangerous threat to be avoided through regulation if legislation proves to be impossible. “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,” said the president, lowering his voice and slowing his pace for emphasis.
“Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America,” he said. “So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. Let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.”
Ernest Moniz, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a top candidate to replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu, according to industry sources. President Obama is considering tapping Moniz, a nuclear physicist, to replace Chu, who announced his resignation earlier this month. Moniz, 69, served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary during the Clinton administration and has advised Obama on central components of the administration’s energy plan, including a retooling of the country’s stalled nuclear waste program, energy research and development, and unconventional gas.
A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers has reintroduced a bill that would establish a new leasing program for wind and solar energy on federal lands and use a portion of revenues to support states, counties and wildlife habitats. The bills by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) also would dedicate revenues to help agencies streamline the permitting of renewable energy on federal lands.