Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama’s Transportation Secretary

In Barack Obama, transportation on June 23, 2009 at 12:02 am

by Jesse Fox for

ray lahood nytimes photo

Image via The New York Times

“I think we’re doing great things right now,” says Ray LaHood, the Obama Administration’s Secretary of Transportation. A former Republican Congressman from Illinois, many advocates of sustainable transport were initially unsure what to make of his appointment. Several months later, LaHood is shaping up to become one of the administration’s more activist figure

Secretary LaHood, who oversees a $70 billion budget, along with some $50 billion in stimulus funds, admits that the United States’ transportation systems are a long way from sustainability. “We’ve spent three decades building an interstate system,” he told US News & World Report recently. “We’ve put almost all of our resources into the interstate system.”

The new administration, however, appears to be breaking with America’s highway-loving tradition, bringing in a new set of priorities including high-speed rail, building more efficient cars and creating “livable communities.” Back to the One-Car Garage.

In a June 12 interview published in US News & World Report, LaHood said that the USDOT is in a “transformational” moment right now:

This is a transformational president, and the department is following the president’s lead. People haven’t really been thinking about these things. They have been thinking about how to build roads, how to build interstates, how to build bridges. People now are thinking differently about where they want to live, how they want to live, and how they want to be able to get around their communities.

In another interview, published in The New York Times, LaHood said he envisions a shift from the three-car garages of today back to the one-car garage, as Americans begin to live in communities where they are less dependent on their cars:

What we’ve talked about is getting to a concept that we call livable communities, where people don’t have to get in a car every day. You can use light rail, you can use buses, you can use walking paths, you can use your bike.

Integrated Urban Planning

In order to make that happen, LaHood’s Department of Transportation wants every metropolitan area in the country to conduct “integrated housing, transportation, and land use planning.” As the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Kaid Benfield notes on the NRDC’s blog Switchboard, this by itself is an almost revolutionary shif

Although it sounds like a no-brainer, in reality transportation, housing policy (including affordable housing) and land use issues are rarely addressed in an integrated fashion. The results of this disjointed approach to planning can be seen in every American cit

In another groudbreaking move, a three-way partnership has been created between LaHood’s DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency and HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The goal of the partnership is to use the three agencies’ collective influence and budgets to build more equitable and sustainable communities, with cheaper, more efficient transportation and more affordable and walkable neighborhoods. All of this adds up to a real sea change in the way the US government deals with transportation issue

New Budgets for Transportation

Meanwhile, the details of a new transportation bill, which would transform the way the government budgets transportation projects, have just been released. Congressman James Oberstar’s Surface Transportation Authorization Act would begin to shift funds from highways to mass transit, allocate a massive $50 billion for high-speed rail, sketch out a detailed vision for a new national transportation system and establish a National Infrastructure Ban

However, for the moment anyway, it appears that such a serious legislative overhaul will have to wait. Apparently preferring to save its political leverage for the coming battles over health care and climate legislation, the Obama Administration is likely to support extending existing transportation legislation for another year and a half – effectively pushing off the new bill until the

For more updates, check out Secretary of Transporation LaHood’s official blog, appropriately named The Fast Lane, as well as Yonah Freemark’s comprehensive blog The Transport Politic.

Obama Launches US Ocean Protection Plan

In ocean on June 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

ocean protection plan obama photo
Photo via iWebQuest

Though it’s in the early stages of development, Obama announced he’s creating an Ocean Protection Plan that will provide a comprehensive national policy for protecting seas, coastal areas, and the Great Lakes. Here’s how he’s going to do it.

It’s been called one of Obama’s biggest environmental challenges, but evidently he feels up for the task. With a water crisis looming, making efficient use of our oceans is more important than ever.

Obama has issued a presidential memorandum calling for the formation of a strategy to protect the ocean, and the creation of an interagency task force that has 90 days to recommend the following: (from NRDC)

1) A national ocean, coastal and Great Lakes policy that, among other things, protects and maintains these important ecosystems.

2) A structural framework for coordinated implementation of the policy.

So yeah–at the moment the plan is about as broad as it gets. But some of the specifics he’s called into focus are encouraging. For instance, the matter of sorting out how best to make use of ocean space.

. . . within 180 days the task force is to recommend a mechanism for effective marine spatial planning, which will help prevent “ocean sprawl” — as we face more and more proposals for offshore energy and other developments in the ocean. This will help move toward a clean, renewable energy future that protects ocean ecosystems.

And it’s high time such a policy was made in the ocean’s interest–ocean conservation and regulation has been a bureaucratic mess thus far.

. . . right now, our oceans are governed by over 140 laws and 20 different agencies, each with different goals and often conflicting mandates. A national oceans policy can provide the coordinated vision we need to successfully tackle these challenges. Like a Clean Water Act for our water, or a Clean Air Act for our air – a national policy for our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes will establish a national framework for reviving these areas so vital to our environment and economy.

So far so good–of course, how the actual policy shakes down will be the important part. But the first step has been made towards a unified policy for ocean conservation–and that’s no small feat.

$467 Million in Stimulus Money Released for Solar Power & Geothermal

In alternative energy, Barack Obama, green policy, green politics, green technology, photovoltaics, solar energy on May 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm

solar panel photo
photo: David Blaikie via flickr.

Solar power and geothermal power have finally gotten their portion of money allocated in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, to the tune of $467 million. President Obama announced this by touting the usual rhetoric of decreasing dependency on foreign oil and putting people back to work in through green energy jobs. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu too talked up green jobs, plus the role renewable energy can play in combatting climate change Frankly, absolutely nothing new or novel was said, but it is great that solar and geothermal have finally been shown some federal stimulus love. This is how all that money is being divided up:

Geothermal to Get Most of the Funding
All told geothermal is getting $350 million: $140 million is going toward Geothermal Demonstration Projects; $80 million towards Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology Research and Development; $100 million towards Innovative Exploration Techniques; $30 million towards a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System.

Solar Power Gets One-Third of Geothermal
Solar power has been allocated $117.6 million: $51.5 million for Photovoltaic Technology Development; $40.5 for Solar Energy Deployment (“Projects in this area will focus on non-technical barriers to solar energy deployment, including grid connection, market barriers to solar energy adoption in cities, and the shortage of trained solar energy installers.”); Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development brings up the rear with $25.6 million.

More: Department of Energy

Obama Nominates 2 Leading Global Warming Specialists for Key Science Posts in his Administration

In Barack Obama, climate science, climatology, environment, global warming, green policy, green politics on December 22, 2008 at 9:17 pm


Harvard physicist John Holdren will be Mr Obama’s scientific adviser while marine biologist Jane Lubchenco will head the US oceanic research body.

Both have advocated greater government action on climate change.

Their appointments have been seen as a sign of Mr Obama’s commitment to tackling environmental issues.

In his weekly address, Mr Obama said that “today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation”.

He said it was “time we once again put science at the top of our agenda” and that he was confident that the US could “lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity”.


Mr Holdren was described by Mr Obama as “one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change”.


Ms Lubchenco has criticised the Bush administration’s scientific policies

Mr Holdren will become director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the co-chair of the Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

He will share the latter post with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold Varmus and Eric Lander, a specialist in human genome research.

Mr Lander’s appointment has been seen as an indication of the importance of genetic research to the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Ms Lubchenco will direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which monitors global weather patterns and ocean currents.

She had criticised the Bush administration earlier this year for not being “respectful” of science.

“I am very much looking forward to a new administration that does respect scientific information and that considers it very seriously in making environmental policies,” she said.

Mr Obama, who takes office on 20 January, has now filled all the posts in the cabinet. However all nominees must still be vetted and approved by the Senate.

My Bottom Line is Green: McCain v. Obama on Renewable Energy

In alternative energy, environment, green policy, green politics, green technology, solar energy on October 21, 2008 at 12:28 pm


Source: “My Bottom Line is Green: McCain v. Obama on Renewable Energy”,, Business & Politics, Matthew McDermott, 17th Sept 2008

In politics everyone has their bottom line issue: The issue for them which is the ultimate deciding factor when comparing candidates running for office. For me, and I suspect many TreeHugger readers, that issue is the environment.

In that spirit, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be presenting a series of posts comparing the proposed policies of Barack Obama and John McCain, mostly in their own words and with my take on them at the end. Many people have already made up their minds, but for those who haven’t I hope this comparison proves useful. Renewable Energy is up first:

Before we get into the heart of this everyone needs to keep in mind that both candidates undoubtedly place energy policy high on their list of priorities, which is a good thing. How each prioritizes the co-joined issues of energy independence and greening our energy mix, not to mention the best way to go about doing each, vary considerably.


John McCain on Renewable Energy

The first thing about the McCain renewable energy policy in the official campaign literature is that any reference to it occurs after mentioning expanding domestic oil and natural gas production, after expanding nuclear power, and after mention of clean coal—all of which will be tackled in future posts—and when he does get around to talking about renewable energy it is in fairly general terms:

“Even-handed” System of Tax Credits to Promote Renewables

According to the Department of Energy, wind could provide as much as one-fifth of electricity by 2030. The U.S. solar energy industry continued its double-digit annual growth rate in 2006. To develop these and other sources of renewable energy will require that we rationalize the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial feasibility. John McCain believes in an even-handed system of tax credits that will remain in place until the market transforms sufficiently to the point where renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers’ dollars. (McCain-Palin 2008)


Biofuels Show Promise
On biofuels, McCain’s official position is similarly succinct:

…Alcohol-based fuels hold great promise as an alternative to gasoline and as a means of expanding consumer choices. Some choices such as ethanol are on the market right now. The second generation of alcohol-based fuels like cellulosic ethanol, which won’t compete with food crops, are showing great potential.(McCain-Palin 2008)


No Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard
In regards to any mandatory federal Renewable Portfolio Standard, McCain has indicated that he would prefer the market to decide the best solution and states to set standards as they deem appropriate:

As a strong supporter of a greenhouse gas cap and trade system, I believe that such an approach is a better way to diversify and cleanup up the nation’s energy mix by harnessing the power of market forces. I believe that government’s role is to set appropriate standards to protect the environment and allow the market to determine the best means of achieving them. To the extent that state and local policymakers identify useful ways to augment this architecture, I believe that governors, mayors, county supervisors, public utility commission and other authorities can better tailor such policies to local conditions and resources. (’08 On The Record)


When asked recently by Science Debate 2008 how government should support renewable energy he said:

Government must be an ally but not an arbiter. [...] I’ve voted against the current patchwork of tax credits for renewable power because they were temporary, and often the result of who had the best lobbyist instead of who had the best ideas. But the objective itself was right and urgent. [...] We will reform the effort so that it is fair, rational and permanent, letting the market decide which ideas can move us toward clean and renewable energy.


In a broader perspective , The League of Conservation Voters has given John McCain’s lifetime environmental voting record a score of 24 out of 100, adding that he has repeated “rejected even the weakest renewable energy programs.”

Sarah Palin’s Position on Renewable Energy
There’s no doubt that Sarah Palin speaks out far more about expanding production of fossil fuels than on the benefits of renewable energy and her now oft-cited quote,“alternative energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop” (The Post & Courier), does little to promote any other viewpoint.

That said, last year she did add her name to a letter to the Senate Committee on Agriculture which isn’t so hostile towards, and frankly ignorant about, renewable energy:

If the nation is to pursue energy independence, we must look beyond traditional biofuels production. [...] Local production of renewable biomass energy benefits the national economy, promotes national and regional energy security and stimulates the rural economy through the creation of high quality jobs. Encouraging such production will require increased federal investment in programs that support cellulosic biofuels research, increased biodiesel production and use, increases in wind and solar energy and energy from animal wastes, improvements in energy efficiency, bio-based product development, effective carbon storage, and other renewable technologies. (On The Issues 2008)

Barack Obama on Renewable Energy

Low Carbon Fuel Standard
In addition to the 25% by 2025 Renewable Portfolio Standard mentioned above, Obama would:

Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard to speed the introduction of low-carbon non-petroleum fuels. The standard requires fuel suppliers in 2010 to begin to reduce the carbon of their fuels by 5% within 5 years and 10% within 10 years. The Obama plan will incentivize increased private sector investment in advanced low-carbon fuels and has a sustainability provision to ensure that increased biofuel production does not come at the expense of environmental conservation. (Barack Obama and Joe Biden)


Food Versus Fuel
On May 4th of this year on Meet the Press Obama weighed in on the food versus fuel debate. He was asked whether he would consider changing the current ethanol subsidy program:

We’ve got rising food prices here in the US. In other countries we’re seeing riots because of the lack of food supplies. So this is something that we’re going to have to deal with. [...] My top priority is making sure that people are able to get enough to eat. And if it turns out that we’ve got to make changes in our ethanol policy to help people get something to eat, then that’s got to be the step we take. But I also believe that ethanol has been a important transitional tool for us to start dealing with our long-term energy crisis ultimately. Over time we’re going to shift to cellulosic ethanol, where we’re not using food stocks but we’re using wood chips & prairie grass.


The League of Conservation Voters has given Obama’s lifetime environmental voting record a score of 96 out of 100.

How Does Joe Biden Play Into This?
According to the LCV, Joe Biden has a lifetime environmental voting record score of 84, which compares to a Senate average of 52. When asked about a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard by LCV he said,

I support setting a national renewable fuel standard of 20% to increase the use of renewable fuels. We should have a national policy that encourages the development of clean, renewable energy and we should invest in developing renewable energy technology. The US should be a world leader not only in using renewable energy but also in developing and exporting renewable technology to the rest of the world.

Barack Obama’s position on renewable energy is well publicized in his campaign documents. He has promised to invest $150 billion over 10 years in renewable energy technologies; he has said that by 2030 he will require at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels be incorporated into the national fuel mix; by 2025 Obama would require that 25% of the US electricity supply be generated from “clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal; and he would extend the federal production tax credit for five years to assist in making this happen.

To my knowledge, he’s not offered any definitive plan as to how US developed technology will be exported to the rest of the world—is he referring to technology transfer to developing countries or just the normal trade that already goes on?—but either way it’s good to see this mentioned.

McCain & Obama Head to Head

Obama supports strong national policies promoting renewable energy, including a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard; McCain would leave many such decisions to the states and has expressed no support for a national RPS. Obama has a clear position on how long renewable energy tax credits would be extended; McCain only states that an “even-handed system” is needed until renewable energy no longer needs support. Both candidates support biofuels, and seem to have gotten the message that first generation biofuels aren’t quite the thing we thought they were, but here too Obama’s position is more detailed and clear. In terms of running-mates, Joe Biden is far more articulate on the issue of renewable energy than Sarah Palin and is clearly a supporter; whereas Palin is ambivalent at best and at worst simply doesn’t get it.McCain Talks Renewable Energy But Clearly Prioritizes Other Energy Sources
Overall though, I think the starkest contrast between the campaigns is that the McCain platform clearly prioritizes increasing domestic fossil fuel production and expansion of nuclear power over renewable energy. It is somewhat supportive of renewables in its rhetoric—though it seems as though he thinks the current renewable energy tax credits are some sort of command economy lite, which they simply aren’t—but this is secondary to the issue of increasing energy independence.

Obama Places Renewables on More Even Footing
The Obama campaign clearly envisions renewable energy occupying a greater portion of the United States’ energy supply in a shorter time period than does the McCain campaign. While it too mentions nuclear and the oxymoronic clean coal these are prioritized far differently than in the McCain campaign. Obama has clearly expressed that the federal government should take the lead in promoting renewable energy, again a stark difference. While it may not be perfect—$150 billion over ten years is an genuine increase in government investment in renewables, but it is a small fraction of overall investment that is needed—the Obama position on renewable energy is simply stronger.

2008 US Presidential Elections
John McCain on Amtrak
John McCain’s Bear Problem
“Drill Baby Drill” Screams Punctuate McCain’s Energy Policy in Acceptance Speech
Economic Advantages of Green Energy Take Precedence Over Environmental Benefits in Obama Acceptance Speech
What Green Words Are Obama and McCain Really Saying? Ask SpeechWars
Offshore Oil Drilling Will Still Not Lower Gasoline Prices: Barack Obama and Legislative Compromise

Obama Versus McCain on Offshore Drilling & ANWR

In green policy, green politics on September 19, 2008 at 9:40 pm

offshore oil platform in alaska photo
photo: Tim Thomson

As the House of Representatives just approved a new energy package which contains provisions to allow some offshore oil drilling, it may seem to be a moot point to go into a discussion of where John McCain and Barack Obama stand on the issue, but as there are still legislative hurdles to be cleared before any law is actually passed on the matter, it’s worthwhile to go over their positions. So here there are, Obama and McCain on oil drilling, both offshore and in ANWR:

Again, many TreeHugger readers have probably already formed opinions about which of these candidates they back. (Or a third-party candidate, but since realistically it will be one these two men who is the next US president I’m consciously confining the discussion to Obama and McCain; please don’t take this as advocating that two political parties is the best way to run a country.) For those people who haven’t yet made up their minds, I hope this proves useful.  

john mccain speaking with flag photo
photo: McCain-Palin 2008   

John McCain on Offshore Oil Drilling & ANWR

As the screams of “drill, baby, drill” during John McCain’s nomination acceptance speech were met with grins from the man of the moment there’s little mistaking where he stands on the issue. One look as the McCain-Palin campaign literature confirms that expanding domestic oil and natural gas production will head up his energy policy, at least in the short-term. This is increasingly presented as the best route towards energy independence in the United States.On Domestic Oil Drilling

The current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production. John McCain believes it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use. There is no easier or more direct way to prove to the world that we will no longer be subject to the whims of others than to expand our production capabilities. We have trillions of dollars worth of oil and gas reserves in the U.S. at a time we are exporting hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas to buy energy. (McCain-Palin 2008)


In a Republican primary debate at the end of 2007, McCain even went so far as to say that the United States could be oil independent within the next decade: 

We have got to achieve energy independence, oil independence in this nation. I will make it a Manhattan Project, and we will in five years become oil independent.


Viewed in a conciliatory light this would be an overly optimistic position to take. According to the a Pentagon report published in 2004, the earliest the US could realistically be free from imported oil would be 2040. (On the Issues)

Offshore Drilling Viewed More Favorably Than Before
It’s useful to note that McCain’s position on offshore oil drilling underwent a sea change between May and June of this year.

On May 29th he said of offshore oil drilling, “… I also have to tell you that with those resources, which would take years to develop, it would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels.”

However, by June 16th he had moved to this position, “Providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.”

ANWR: McCain & Palin Differ
Though John McCain has expressed opposition to opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Sarah Palin has on numerous occasions expressed vociferous support for oil drilling in ANWR:

Pres. Bush is right. Across the nation, communities are feeling the pinch of high energy costs. It is absurd that we are borrowing from one foreign country to buy oil from another. It is a threat to our national security and economic well-being. It is well past time for America to develop our own supplies. (Alaska Governor’s Office press release, April 29, 2008)


It remains to be seen whether Palin will be able to influence McCain’s position or whether her’s will have to be subdued.

barack obama speaking in las vegas photo
photo: David Katz/Obama for America  

Barack Obama on Offshore Oil Drilling & ANWR

The official Obama-Biden position on domestic oil drilling is terse in comparison to the McCain position. Obama states clearly that he believes that there is no way the United States can drill its way towards energy independence, but he does add that,

U.S. oil and gas production plays an important role in our domestic economy and remains critical to prevent global energy prices from climbing even higher. There are several key opportunities to support increased U.S. production of oil and gas that do not require opening up currently protected areas. (New Energy for America)

Offshore Drilling Will Not Lower Oil Prices Today…Or Five Years From Now
At a speech in Jacksonville, Florida on June 20th of this year, Obama stated his position a bit more definitively. 

What wouldn’t do a thing to lower gas prices is [...] to open up Florida’s coastline to offshore drilling [...] It would have long term consequences for our coastlines but no short term benefits since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil. [...] Offshore oil drilling would not lower gas prices today. It would not lower gas prices tomorrow. It would not lower gas prices next year. It would not lower gas prices five years from now. In fact, President Bush’s own energy department says that we won’t see a drop of oil…until 2017. And, in fact, you won’t see any full production from any oil drilling off the coasts until 2030. It will take a generation to reach full production and even then the effect on gas prices will be minimal at best.


Compromise Would Be Considered
However, he went on to say that if offshore oil drilling could be shown to have a beneficial effect on reducing oil prices in the short term, he would not be opposed to it. And in future statements he expressed that he is willing to compromise on offshore drilling if it is part of a larger package which supports renewable energy,

If we have a plan on the table that I think meets the goals that America has to set, and there are some things in there that I don’t like … I would consider it because that’s the nature of how we govern in a democracy. 

I remain skeptical of some of the drilling provisions [in the so-called “Gang of Ten” bill], but I will give them [the bill's drafters] credit that the way they crafted the drilling provisions are about as careful and responsible as you might expect for a drilling agenda.


At the time this opened up Obama to accusations of doing pretty much the same thing that McCain did in changing his position on offshore drilling (and I’m sure there people who currently believe this).

ANWR is Out
In stark contrast to the Palin position on ANWR is Obama’s. It may be brief but here it is:

I strongly reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it would irreversibly damage a protected national wildlife refuge without creating sufficient oil supplies to meaningfully affect the global market price or have a discernible impact on U.S. energy security. (ANWR)


arctic national wildlife refuge photoANWR photo: Madhav Pai  

Oil Drilling Head to Head

Both myself and a number of other TreeHugger writers have taken on the issue of offshore oil drilling a number of times, and at the level of utility alone (leaving aside environmental concerns about pollution or otherwise disturbing ecosystems, which are genuine concerns) Obama’s position is solidly borne out. He correctly states the best estimates for how long it would take to bring new offshore oil online and correctly quotes the assessments as to what sort of impact on prices it will have.Take It From the Feds
The US Geological Survey estimates that there are 17.8 billion of barrels offshore in areas under moratorium; the EIA says this wouldn’t have an impact on prices until 2030; and then the “impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant” (same EIA citation).

Perhaps a Chart is Better
In terms of what percentage of oil is actually in protected areas offshore compared to how much oil the United States uses, I’ll simply repost the chart that TreeHugger posted a few days ago:
offshore oil drilling supply comparison to national demand image
image: Architecture 2030

Offshore Oil Drilling a Distraction From More Important Issues
As I said in commenting on John McCain’s acceptance speech two weeks ago, this constant focus on opening up new areas in the United States to oil drilling is simply a distraction from the greater issues of reducing fossil fuel consumption, developing clean energy sources, and moving the economy away from polluting and increasingly scarce energy sources.

While the psychological effect of opening up new areas to drilling may reduce prices slightly, they could just as easily be increased based on fears of another hurricane smashing into Louisiana and Texas, of Hugo Chavez cutting off oil supplies to the US, or an RPG attack on a tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The prime beneficiaries of any offshore oil drilling will ultimately be the companies doing the drilling, not the citizens of the United States.

Want to know where McCain and Obama stand on renewable energy? Check out My Bottom Line is Green: McCain v. Obama on Renewable Energy

2008 US Presidential Elections
John McCain on Amtrak
John McCain’s Bear Problem
“Drill Baby Drill” Screams Punctuate McCain’s Energy Policy in Acceptance Speech
Economic Advantages of Green Energy Take Precedence Over Environmental Benefits in Obama Acceptance Speech
What Green Words Are Obama and McCain Really Saying? Ask SpeechWars
Offshore Oil Drilling Will Still Not Lower Gasoline Prices: Barack Obama and Legislative Compromise  


“Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel: McCain v. Obama on Offshore Oil Drilling & ANWR“,, Politics & Business, Matthew McDermott, 19th Sept 2008

Obama’s Energy Plan

In alternative energy, environment, green policy on August 30, 2008 at 9:35 am


Many of you have probably seen, heard or read about Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night. For those who haven’t seen it and who have 45 minutes to spare, a video of the entire speech is embedded above. However for those with less time on their hands, here are the relevant portions in regards to what Mr Obama has said in regards to energy policy. 

Environmental and climate change policy were not mentioned.The fact that these are absent from this speech is slightly disconcerting, but if pushing forward the economic benefits of renewable energy is what it takes to convince more people of its virtues (and the end result is lowered greenhouse gas emissions), then I won’t begrudge Barack for not mentioning them in this venue.

Ending Oil Dependency

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. We will do this. 

Washington — Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years. And, by the way, John McCain has been there for 26 of them. And in that time, he has said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels.And today, we import triple the amount of oil than we had on the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution, not even close.


It probably goes without saying that better fuel efficiency standards, more investment in renewable energy and more consistent government policy on incentives (too bad this last one wasn’t mentioned…) are all perennial themes on TreeHugger. It’s also good to see that Obama has said that simply drilling for more oil is not a realistic proposition for kicking the oil habit.

Energy Security/Independence

As president, as president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. [...] Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient.


I would have liked to see renewable energy come first in the speech—and as we’ve said before, there’s really no such thing as clean coal— but then again I don’t have to carry coal-producing states. I guess we’ll have to see how this one pans out if Obama is elected.

In regards to the government leading on energy policy, but all of us having to do our part to improve how efficiently we use energy: It sounds like he’s been reading TreeHugger.

On Renewable Energy

And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power, and solar power, and the next generation of biofuels — an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.


Can’t complain here, especially considering there’s mention of the next generation of biofuels, rather than the support he’s previously shown for corn ethanol.

Obviously there’s no specific policy to comment upon here, but the fact that he recognizes the economic benefits of increasing renewable energy investment is good to see. As I said at the outset, while I might argue that the environmental benefits of renewable energy are even more important than the real economic benefits, in uncertain economic times if that’s what it takes to sell the concept, then so be it.

:: Barack Obama

Offshore Oil Drilling, Fuel Efficiency, Renewable Energy, More…
Offshore Oil Drilling Will Still Not Lower Gasoline Prices: Barack Obama and Legislative Compromise
Bush’s New Fuel Economy Rules Look Good…Until You Read All 417 Pages
Important U.S. Renewable Energy Incentive Package Still Stalled in Senate
New Generation of Nuclear Power Plants More Expensive than Expected
There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal
First Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Approved for California
Mapping the Alternative Energy Potential of the United States


Economic Advantages of Green Energy Take Precedence over Environmental Benefits in Obama Acceptance Speech“,, Business & Politics, Matthew McDermott, 29th August 2008 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.