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On Tuesday night President Barack Obama gave his fifth formal State of the Union address, in which he celebrated the US oil and gas sector causing environmentalists to worry that he has relaxed his stance to battle climate change and encourage renewable energies.
The president was very vocal of his support for the boom in natural gas production, claiming that “if extracted safely,” natural gas will be “the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”
Natural gas industry leaders were excited by Obama’s words, after he urged Congress to encourage the development of “fuelling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.”
Marty Durbin, the CEO of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, said that “it’s clear from tonight’s speech that the president recognizes the role natural gas is playing in meeting our nation’s economic and environmental needs. As the president mentioned, there is great promise for natural gas in our transportation sector as trucks, trains and cargo ships transition to this clean and abundant fuel.”
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It is understandable that Obama would be so warm towards the oil and gas sector, as it has been one of the few positive areas of the otherwise gloomy economy, but he did also try and remind Americans that alternative fuels and renewable energy sources are the future, although they might not yet be the present.
Matt Lee-Ashley, from the Center for American Progress, explained that “he made clear that for America’s energy boom to be sustainable over the long term, we must take bold steps to both cut carbon pollution and better protect lands and waters that are too special to drill.”
David Turnbull, the campaigns director at Oil Change International, was also pleased by the president’s words, but warned that “his continued trumpeting of all-of-the-above energy that includes more oil and gas drilling denies the reality of what’s needed to actually live up to his own words.”
Other environmentalists were more widely opposed to the speech and the support shown for the fossil fuel industry, claiming that it was a long way from the bold commitments to battling climate change that they had been hoping for.
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Earlier this year eighteen environmental groups told Obama that his ‘all of the above’ energy policy was hurting the fight against climate change, yet in his State of the Union address the president continued with this approach.
May Boeve, the executive director of 350.org, stated that “you can’t say you care about ending cancer and then go buy a carton of cigarettes, and you can’t say you care about the climate and then go dig up more fossil fuels. We need real leadership from this president — not more lip service.”
Oil Industry leaders were also angered by the president’s address, complaining that he was trying to take credit for the US energy boom, when most of the wells are drilled on private land.
Republican congressman Doc Hastings, the head of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that “while the president frequently attempts to take credit for the current increase in domestic energy production, this is happening in spite of his policies, not because of them. The only increase in American energy production is taking place on state and private lands.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…