President Obama outlines his energy priorities in State of the Union address

On the evening of January 24, President Barack Obama delivered his 2012State of the Union address, reiterating a number of energy priorities he has supported during his term in office. Here’s a brief recap.

Natural Gas

President Obama dedicated a significant portion of his energy discussion to the increase in domestic natural gas production, noting the U.S. has a potential natural gas supply estimated to last for nearly a century. The President pledged that his Administration will take steps to safely develop those resources while requiring companies to disclose any chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Oil

Also on the topic of conventional fuels, President Obama noted the significant increase in domestic crude oil production during his term, and that while “American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years,” tax breaks for oil and gas companies should be eliminated.  The President pledged that his Administration will open  offshore areas to oil and gas production to facilitate ongoing domestic production.

Renewables and Clean Energy

The President called on Congress to renew clean energy tax credits (the popular Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy are set to expire at year’s end). The President did acknowledge that a broad cap-and-trade climate change bill will not move through Congress in the coming year, but  he again called for Congress to pass a Clean Energy Standard. In order to facilitate additional clean energy projects, he is directing his Administration to “allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes.”

Next Steps

The speech did not include specific details on how the President would like to meet many of these energy goals. Options could include engaging Congress through the traditional legislative process (as was the case in 2011 with a Clean Energy Standard), empowering agencies within the Administration (such as possibly directing  the Environmental Protection Agency to more strictly regulate hydraulic fracturing), or by issuing Executive Orders. It is expected President Obama will provide more details in the coming weeks and in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget request due in mid-February.

ISO New England’s External Affairs team closely tracks federal energy policy initiatives and will continue to post updates on the ISO Newswire.