President Obama focused on a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency issues in his State of the Union address on January 28, highlighting progress toward a "shift to a cleaner energy economy" and spotlighting solar energy and fuel efficiency.
"The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way," President Obama said. "But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."
The President also spoke about the growth of renewable energy in the United States, saying that "we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced." The President noted that as the United States has increased its energy production, the nation has "partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump."
Among the other energy-related highlights:
— The President proposed new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas or other alternative fuels, and the infrastructure needed to run them.
— President Obama caled on Congress to establish an Energy Security Trust to invest in a range of cost-effective advanced vehicle technologies, including electric vehicles, homegrown biofuels, hudrogen, and domestically-produced natural gas.
— The President announced a new tax credit to spur investment in the necessary infrastructure to support deployment of advanced vehicles at critical mass. His proposal would be fuel neutral, allowing the private sector to determine if biofuels, electrification, natural gas, hydrogen, or other alternative fuels would be the best fit in different communities.
— In addition, the President proposed to extend the cellulosic biofuel producer credit that expired on December 31, 2013.
As part of his Climate Action Plan, President Obama has directed his Administration to work with states to develop clean energy and energy efficiency policies. Under the same plan, the Energy Department has proposed five energy conservation standards and finalized one standard for appliances and equipment. Additionally, the President directed his Administration to negotiate an agreement that would eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, including clean and renewable energy technologies.